Misleading country rankings perpetuate destructive business practices

Harald Bergsteiner, Gayle C. Avery*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
171 Downloads (Pure)


Countries are ranked on many criteria, the results of which can have far-reaching ethical and practical implications, particularly for emerging nations seeking role models. One highly influential ranking, the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (GCR), has been criticized for containing multiple methodological, conceptual, and logical flaws that bias competitiveness rankings toward countries that favor neoliberalism. Using datasets not afflicted by such flaws, we examine Bergsteiner and Avery’s (J Bus Ethics 109(4):391–410, 2012) prediction that competitiveness scores of the USA and the UK are substantially overstated. Results of re-ranking 104 countries using 29 economic, environmental, and social datasets from reputable sources support this assertion, with the USA showing the greatest discrepancy on a 100-point scale between its 2013–2014 GCR score (5) and our study’s 2013 score (57), and the UK falling from GCR score 9 to 40. We explore reasons for this discrepancy, including examining the relationship between a country’s neoliberal traditions and its rankings on the indicators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863-881
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number3
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright The Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • country competitiveness rankings
  • ideology
  • methodology


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