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Competitive Productivity (CP) at macro–meso–micro levels

Chris Baumann (Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia) (SNU Business School, Seoul National University (SNU), Seoul, The Republic of Korea)
Michael Cherry (Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia) (Raffrey Consulting, Sydney, Australia)
Wujin Chu (SNU Business School, Seoul National University (SNU), Seoul, The Republic of Korea)

Cross Cultural & Strategic Management

ISSN: 2059-5794

Article publication date: 16 April 2019

Issue publication date: 18 June 2019



The purpose of this paper is to advance our understanding of competitiveness. The authors introduce the concept of Competitive Productivity (CP), supplementing shortcomings of traditional understandings of national, organisational and individual productivity which overlook the nature of competitiveness, i.e. outperforming the competition, or at least bettering one’s own performance. The authors offer definitions, components and construct measurements of CP at three levels: macro, meso and micro.


A review of the literature was conducted to evaluate the need for combining productivity and competitiveness into one new construct. There are theories that combine these ideas – e.g., the resource-based theory of the firm – but the authors are presenting these concepts differently, or in a novel way. The authors’ focus on CP makes necessary a new group of construct measures which are different from that of the strategy literature: the authors measure an agent’s tendency “to be better than the competition” along multiple dimensions. Based on the CP construct, the authors present three testable models to uncover determinants of CP at three levels (macro, meso and micro). Finally, the work around “emergent property” can be applied to examine CP itself as being a determinant for other higher-order outcomes such as welfare, profits and life satisfaction. CP forms a platform to explore likely interplay (bottom-up and/or top-down mechanisms) within the micro–meso–macro architecture.


Three CP models were developed and are briefly discussed in this paper: first, a National Competitive Productivity (NCP) model to capture the components/drivers of national CP (macro level). Second, a Firm Competitive Productivity (FCP) model to capture the components/drivers of firm CP within an industry context (meso). And finally, an Individual Competitive Productivity (ICP) model capturing the components/drivers of CP at the individual (micro) level.


The study provides a combined approach to capture productivity and competitiveness within one innovative concept: CP. It can be used by government and policy makers (NCP model), managers and organisations (FCP model), and individuals such as workers and students (ICP model) to evaluate and enhance their performance. A better understanding of the components/drivers of CP at the three levels and the suggested measurement of CP should provide a stronger theory of competitiveness of nations, firms and individuals. Not least should a focus on the three levels (macro, meso and micro) better prepare citizens, firms, workers and students to effectively function and work in the marketplace and in society. The authors’ work should eventually contribute to more effective benchmarking and continuous improvement in the competitiveness domain. Crucially, this conceptual paper forms the foundation for future empirical testing of CP components in the context of the relative values and moderated behaviour as captured by the ReVaMB model.



This paper would not have reached fruition without the mentorship of Professor Rosalie L. Tung at Simon Fraser University (SFU) whose research and work more broadly has inspired the first author of this paper over two decades, and has not least inspired the narrative of Competitive Productivity (CP). Iggy Pintado is acknowledged for his contribution to the original 2013 CP article in the Journal of the Institute of Management Services. Because CP has developed over a long stretch of time, there are many colleagues that deserve to be acknowledged. The authors are grateful for the input provided by Professor Andrew R. Timming (BA summa cum laude, MA PhD Cambridge) at the University of Western Australia (UWA), and by Professor Ross Gordon at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). At Macquarie University, the authors were privileged to discuss CP with Professor Fei Guo, Associate Professor Hume Winzar and Dr Vida Siahtiri. Inspiration was further provided by Professor Susan Ellis at Macquarie University, where she is the Director of the Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM). Dr Hamin Hamin at Sydney City School of Business (TOP Education) also shared his view on the emerging piece. Senior Professor Paul J. Gollan, Pro-Vice Chancellor at the Sydney Business School, University of Wollongong (UOW), shared his expertise in relation to CP during a work visit to Seoul, South Korea; Korea is an exemplar location to discuss competitiveness, and so is Japan, where CP was discussed with Professor Wirawan Dony Dahana, Graduate School of Economics, Osaka University, and with Professor Takashi Kanamura, Graduate School of Advanced Integrated Studies in Human Survivability (GSAIS), Kyoto University. Not least do the authors also thank two PhD candidates at Macquarie University for their research assistance: Doris Viengkham (PhD on Confucianism and competitiveness) and S.J. Yang (PhD on competitiveness and performance). The paper was professionally edited by Glyn Mather who is acknowledged for her attention to detail and her talent for elegant language. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the AIB 2017 Annual Meeting in Dubai.


Baumann, C., Cherry, M. and Chu, W. (2019), "Competitive Productivity (CP) at macro–meso–micro levels", Cross Cultural & Strategic Management, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 118-144.



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