13 Dec 2011

Harvard Business School Launches U.S. Competitiveness Project


BOSTON—Harvard Business School (HBS) Dean Nitin Nohria today announced the launch of the U.S. Competitiveness Project, a comprehensive effort to generate ideas and actions that boost the ability of companies in the U.S. to compete in the global economy and raise American living standards. The announcement included the introduction of a new digital forum (hbs.edu/competitiveness) dedicated to the topic and comes two weeks after the School hosted a Summit of 100 CEOs, labor leaders, scholars, and current and former senior government officials.

"Our ambition at HBS is to engage deeply with the most important questions facing society, and one of those questions concerns the future competitiveness of the United States as a business location and its influence on the rest of the world," said Nohria. "As we continue to move from an American century in business to a global century in business, people are wondering what this country's role will be. There is no more appropriate time than now for us to explore this question deeply and develop answers that will allow America to remain a competitive place to conduct business in the international economy."

The Project is led by HBS Professors Michael E. Porter and Jan W. Rivkin, in conjunction with HBS faculty colleagues and scholars from other leading institutions. Business leaders, HBS alumni worldwide, and policy makers are also contributing to the Project's findings, with initial research appearing in a special March 2012 issue of Harvard Business Review. Additionally, in January HBS will release results of its first-ever comprehensive alumni survey on U.S. competitiveness, including unique data on where companies locate business activities globally and why they move activities into or out of the U.S. In the spring, HBS will convene alumni, business leaders, elected officials, and local organizations in a number of U.S. cities to disseminate ideas and galvanize action at the regional level.

"Improving competitiveness is often seen as the job of the government," said Porter, the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor at Harvard and head of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at HBS. "But business leaders can and should play a central role in boosting competitiveness. Our Project will look especially at what business leaders can do to promote prosperity in America."

"The extensive data we've reviewed show that U.S. competitiveness is eroding, but its further decline is far from inevitable," said Rivkin, the School's Bruce V. Rauner Professor of Business Administration. "The U.S. remains the world's most productive large economy, with unmatched strengths in many areas, and we're optimistic that a coordinated effort by business, labor, government, academia, and citizens at large can help reverse this course and put the American economy back on a positive track."

The Project's research focuses on key dimensions of U.S. competitiveness, including innovation, manufacturing, entrepreneurship, company location choices, firm governance, local business ecosystems, human capital, K-12 education, fiscal policy, tax policy, capital markets, environmental sustainability, democracy, and international trade. Scholars and practitioners contributing to initial research efforts include Steve Charnovitz, George Washington University; Stacey M. Childress, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Mihir A. Desai, HBS; Daniel C. Esty, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Yale Law School; Robin Greenwood, HBS; Rosabeth Moss Kanter, HBS; Thomas A. Kochan, MIT Sloan School of Management; Robert Z. Lawrence, Harvard Kennedy School; Josh Lerner, HBS; David A. Moss, HBS; Gary P. Pisano, HBS; Jan W. Rivkin, HBS; Michael E. Porter, HBS; William A. Sahlman, HBS; David S. Scharfstein, HBS; Willy C. Shih, HBS; Richard H.K. Vietor, HBS; and Matthew C. Weinzierl, HBS.

Participant profiles and abstracts of their research are available at www.hbs.edu/competitiveness.


Jim Aisner

Ben Branham

About Harvard Business School

Founded in 1908 as part of Harvard University, Harvard Business School is located on a 40-acre campus in Boston. Its faculty of more than 250 offers full-time programs leading to the MBA and PhD degrees, as well as more than 175 Executive Education programs, and Harvard Business School Online, the School’s digital learning platform. For more than a century, faculty have drawn on their research, their experience in working with organizations worldwide, and their passion for teaching, to educate leaders who make a difference in the world. The School and its curriculum attract the boldest thinkers and the most collaborative learners who will go on to shape the practice of business and entrepreneurship around the globe.