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With close to 200 countries in the world today, these countries are at various stages of development from less developed to more develop; these stages are often labeled in a rising numerical sequence such as Stage 1 to 3. Countries in the world compete in a global economy to benefit their domestic firms and citizens. As countries move to a higher stage of economic development they offer more global competitiveness for global businesses seeking new markets for sales, offshore outsourcing, and investments.

“The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests.” ( Since 2004, The World Economic Forum annually releases a Global Competitiveness Report which includes the Global Competitiveness Index.

The Global Competitiveness Report places nations into five stages of development. In the 2009 report, the Global Competitiveness Report placed nations into one of five categories of stages of development from Stage 1 (lower) to Stage 3 (highest): Stage 1 with 38 countries, Transition from Stage 1 to Stage 2 with 18 countries, Stage 2 with 26 countries, Transition from Stage 2 to Stage 3 with 14 countries, and Stage 3 with 37 countries.

“The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) tracks the performance of close to 140 countries on 12 pillars of competitiveness. It assesses the factors and institutions identified by empirical and theoretical research as determining improvements in productivity, which in turn is the main determinant of long-term growth and an essential factor in economic growth and prosperity. The Global Competitiveness Report hence seeks to help decision makers understand the complex and multifaceted nature of the development challenge; to design better policies, based on public-private collaboration; and to take action to restore confidence in the possibilities of continued economic progress.” (www.webforum. org) The GCI went through a major revision starting with the 2009 report and prior year rankings were excluded from this analysis due to these methodological changes.

This study presents an analysis of the rankings of 119 nations on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) from 2009 to 2018 that focuses upon five categories of nations for each stage of development: overall ranking significant gainer nations (defined as a gain of 20 or more in ranking), overall ranking moderate gainer nations (defined as a gain of 10 to 19 in ranking) those nations that are relatively stable in ranking (defined as a change in ranking from no change to a gain or loss of no more than 9), overall ranking moderate decliner nations (defined as a decline of 10 to 19 in rank), overall ranking significant decliner nations (defined as a decline of 20 or more in rank) the percentage in each category, and conclusions. This study incorporates an analysis of rank correlation for the rankings in 2009 and 2018 at each stage of development.

The study concludes that for the 119 countries analyzed despite a range of +37 to -55 in global competitiveness index ranking for particular countries, there is not much average movement change for the five stages of development. The lowest average change (-0.2000) was for Stage 1 countries and the highest average change was for Stage 2 countries (-2.2083) and the highest average change gains were for Transition 1 to 2 stage countries (+1.3750). Analysis of rank correlations by development stage also supported these conclusions. As leaders of nations seek to improve their nation’s rankings on the Global Competitiveness Index, they will have to anticipate that it will not be easy to achieve over a short period of time.


This article was originally published in Medcave Journal of Business Management, volume 1, issue 1, in 2018.

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