Purpose: 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.
Design/methodology/approach: 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.
Findings: 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.
Originality/value: 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.
- Competitive Productivity (CP)
- Emergent property
- Macro–meso–micro architecture