For more than three decades, the World Economic Forum has been working on the topic of national competitiveness, in an effort to understand and measure what drives national productivity and prosperity.

Being competitive requires countries to have in place a mix of factors such as solid infrastructure, a healthy and educated workforce, efficient markets, and a propensity for technological adoption and innovation. Over the years, we have continued to integrate the latest thinking and priorities into our work, with a goal of supporting national and regional efforts towards improved economic performance. Our analysis has shown that those countries that are more competitive tend to be more resilient to shocks. Indeed, the most competitive countries have tended to better weather the lingering economic difficulties of the last five years.

In the most recent Global Competitiveness Report, released in September 2012, we lamented about the significant short termism among business leaders and policy-makers. This lack of a long-term vision in many countries is making it difficult to address critical issues of competitiveness, many of which require efforts over time, and reinforcing the significant competitiveness gaps that have developed both at the regional and international levels.

This has been poignantly illustrated by the competitiveness divide in Europe, especially between the successful North and the struggling South, which is making it so difficult to resolve the shorter term financial concerns. In this light, we have continued to build on the Forum’s multistakeholder networks, holding numerous workshops and roundtables around the globe, aimed at devising ways of jumpstarting national competitiveness through structural reforms and critical investments.

As a next step, after many years of exploring the “what” of economic performance, a number of our projects and initiatives are now looking at the “how”. At issue is the fact that countries are increasingly aware of what they need to do in order to improve their economic performance, but they are not sure how best to get there.

The Forum has therefore launched a project aimed at collecting and presenting policies and practices that have worked well in spurring improvements in particular countries, in an effort to disseminate good ideas and encourage positive reforms and actions. A pilot project on Europe’s competitiveness practices will be launched at the Annual Meeting in Davos, after which we will start to build an online platform of such efforts from around the globe.

Also on the agenda at Davos will be the Forum’s continued efforts to integrate the concept of social and environmental sustainability into its competitiveness analysis. The need to better understand the relationship between economic competitiveness and social and environmental sustainability has been demonstrated by events such as the Arab Spring, the rise of unemployment in many advanced economies (particularly among the young and less skilled), increasing income inequalities and social unrest in rapidly-growing economies, as well as by increasing pressure on natural resources or the high levels of pollution.

Addressing such issues must also be done in haste to ensure that economic performance remains resilient going into the future.

Navigate a map of the world’s most competitive nations.

About Resilient Dynamism
To be resilient is to be able to adapt, withstand shocks and recover from them. Future growth in this new context requires dynamism – bold vision and even bolder action. As the theme of 2013′s World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Resilient Dynamism refers to these combined attributes as fundamental concepts for leadership in coming years.

Author: Jennifer Blanke is Lead Economist, Senior Director and Head of the Global Competitiveness Network at the World Economic Forum

Author: A construction worker walks past a hoarding in London REUTERS/Luc MacGregor