Guest editorial

Competitiveness Review

ISSN: 1059-5422

Article publication date: 23 May 2008



Chikan, A. (2008), "Guest editorial", Competitiveness Review, Vol. 18 No. 1/2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal, Volume 18, Issue 1-2.

About the Guest Editor.

Attila ChikánProfessor of Business Economics and Director of Competitiveness Research Centre of Corvinus University of Budapest (CUB). He has been with this university ever since his graduation in 1967. He was Minister for Economic Affairs of the Hungarian Government in 1998-1999 and rector of CUB in 2000-2003. He has held a number of positions in international organization, including President, Federation of European Production and Industrial Management Society (1995) and President, International Federation of Purchasing and Supply Management. He has been on the Board of several major companies. He is the author or co-author of over a dozen books and two dozen papers in refereed international journals. He is a member of the Editorial Board of two Hungarian and seven international journals.

This special issue contains selected and edited papers of the conference “Connection between Macro and Micro Level Competitiveness (Conceptual Framework and Practical Solutions)” held on 25-26 May 2006 in Budapest, Hungary. The conference was organized by the Competitiveness Research Centre at the Institute of Business Economics of Corvinus University of Budapest. It was attended by over 50 people from 12 countries.

The focus of the conference was on the connection of the two main levels of competitiveness: business and national levels. Literature on both is vast however, even though everybody acknowledges that they have a very important influence on each other in any given economy, very few studies deal explicitly with this connection. We have heard exciting and mind-broadening presentations and had some lively discussions. The opening keynote speaker was Mr Carlos Magarinos, Former Director General of United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

From among the many high-quality papers of the conference, we have selected those which we thought to be most interesting for the readers of Competitiveness Review. A brief summary of the papers included in this volume is given below, in an alphabetical order.

Károly Balaton's paper summarizes the main findings of studying enterprise strategies in Hungary within a competitiveness survey conducted between 2004 and 2006. It discusses expectations company managers hold in relation to consequences of Hungary's joining the European Union. Increased uncertainty was perceived by managers in the period of accession and they expected more severe competition after the accession. A description of strategy development processes is given with an overview the content and typologies of enterprise strategies, including intentions for international expansion, characteristics of strategic alliances, mergers and acquisitions, innovation activities and corporate governance structures.

The paper by Attila Chikán is an attempt to narrow the gap experienced between macro and micro (national and firm) views of competitiveness. National and firm competitiveness are defined, with attention paid to have an analogous definition in order to ensure connectivity. The contents of definitions are analyzed, including a reference to the double focus of both level competitiveness: customer satisfaction and profit at the firm level, social welfare and factor productivity at the national level. A model connecting the two levels is built by using Michael Porter's “diamond”. The resulting macro-micro model seems to be an adequate framework for further analysis and empirical research.

The paper of Fang Lee Cooke analyses the key elements in the strategy of leading Chinese private firms, drawing on the self report of 30 of the Top 50 Private Enterprises of 2004 in China. It identifies key success factors which appear to be associated with firm growth, business diversification, development of international market, product innovation and quality enhancement, strategic marketing, product and corporate branding, entrepreneurship of owner managers/CEOs and reform of corporate governance. In addition, these top-performing Chinese private firms tend to adopt a high-commitment model of HRM which emphasizes training and development, promotion by competence, extensive employee welfare provision, and enterprise culture development and management.

Harald Hagemann discusses the impact of development of information and communication technologies on some main macroeconomic indicators: growth, productivity and employment. He identifies three main channels of this impact:

  1. 1.

    rapid technical progress of ICT-capital goods producing sector;

  2. 2.

    accumulation and application of ICT goods and services at the user sectors; and

  3. 3.

    positive spillover effects of ICT, leading to increase of efficiency.

The paper concludes with a comparison of US and German economic development and shows that lagging behind in ICT investments of the eastern part of Germany (due to the shortage of qualified human capital) has been a major factor of failing of the goals of the EU's Lisbon agenda.

The paper by Robert Huggins and Hiro Izushi introduces the concept of knowledge competitiveness, defined as an economy's knowledge capacity, capability and sustainability, and the extent to which this knowledge is translated into economic value and transferred into the wealth of the citizens. The article discusses the way in which the knowledge competitiveness of regions is measured and further introduces the World Knowledge Competitiveness Index, which is the first composite and relative measure of knowledge competitiveness of the globe's best performing regions.

The Tan Khee Giap, Tan Kong Yam and Chen Kang paper is a pioneering attempt to study the relative competitiveness of ASEAN-10, 31 provinces of mainland China and 35 states of India. Through competitiveness ranking the authors aim to provide a source of information to assist companies to better formulate investment strategies and make informed choices on investment locations within Asia region. The other objective is to assess relative competitiveness of regional economies so as to introduce peer pressure amongst policy makers and local governments to improve their competitive edge. Statistical evidences revealed the shifts in relative competitiveness between China and India over time and over four different (economic, government-institutions, business and social) environments. Based on the empirical findings, strategies and cooperation conclusions for growth and development amongst China, India and ASEAN were drawn.

The paper by Örjan Sölvell, Christian Ketels and Göran Lindqvis focuses on industrial specialization patterns within the ten new EU member states (EU10). Official employment statistics are analyzed across the industry dimension through 38 cluster sectors and across the geographical dimension through 41 NUTS 2 regions. Industrial specialization is analyzed in terms of absolute number of employees, specialization, and dominance. A total of 19 “three-star” regional clusters, which display high values for each of these three parameters, are identified. The analysis also suggests that regional concentration in EU10 is lower than in the USA, and slightly lower than in the old EU member states.

Ádám Török examines export competitiveness of Hungary in comparison with three groups of countries: old EU members (Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Greece), newly accessed countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia) and candidate countries (Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Ukraine). The author discusses several theoretical and measurement problems behind the research issues and makes the comparison of export performances in the Austrian, German and Italian markets of four commodity groups (capital and material intensive, R+D intensive, labour intensive and technology intensive) in altogether 35 industry sectors. Conclusions refer to the development of the exports of Hungary as well as of the other countries involved in the analysis, and also some remarks on the trade theory aspects of the results.

The paper written by Zita Zoltay Paprika, Agnes Wimmer and Richard Szanto explores three key aspects of managerial decision making:

  1. 1.

    managerial capabilities and skills;

  2. 2.

    attitudes toward decision making, information and performance measurement; and

  3. 3.

    companies' approaches to the management of relationship with their stakeholders.

All these factors play an important role in the competitiveness of Hungarian companies. The authors analyze the differences of companies' clusters by company size, dominant ownership, and performance according to the routines and attitudes of decision making. Some recommendations for the business community are drawn up reflecting on the successful companies' practice.

Attila Chikán Guest Editor

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