Harvard Business Review Press
March 13, 2007
Countries around the world are jockeying more fiercely than ever for the markets, technologies, skills, foreign investment, and distribution channels needed to grow their economies and raise their standards of living. In our thoroughly globalized world, the specific strategies of these national governments will either make – or break – their efforts to drive and sustain growth, reduce poverty, accommodate urbanization, and create jobs.
In How Countries Compete: Strategy, Structure, and Government in the Global Economy, Richard H. K. Vietor shows how governments both set the direction and create the climate for a nation’s economic development and profitable private enterprise. Vietor points out that in today’s hypercompetitive environment, government invariably provides many of the distinctive advantages that firms need to go head-to-head with rivals. These advantages include high savings and low interest rates for investment, sound property rights and good governance, a technologically motivated and committed workforce, a low rate of inflation, and a rapidly expanding domestic market.
Drawing on history, economic analysis, and interviews with executives and officials around the globe, Vietor provides vivid and insightful examinations of different approaches to government strategy, leading to both success and failure. Separate chapters highlight important countries – including China, India, Japan, Singapore, and the United States, as well as Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and Italy – and reveal the unique social, economic, cultural, and historical forces that determine a country’s trajectory. Vietor also challenges the widespread notion that in market-driven economies, such as the United States, a strong government can only hinder business success.
A provocative account and a rich resource, How Countries Compete offers potent insights into how the business environment has evolved in crucial nations – and what its trajectory might look like in the future.
Richard H. K. Vietor is the Senator John Heinz Professor of Environmental Management at Harvard Business School, where he teaches courses on the regulation of business and the international political economy.