U.S. Competitiveness is on the Decline: Businesses Need to Take Action
On October 1, I Imagine attended the Harvard Business School event, U.S. Competitiveness: Paths Forward. The purpose of the event was to share the results of the U.S. Competitiveness Project, a research-led effort to help understand and improve the competitiveness of businesses in the United States.
I Imagine is eager to help resolve this issue of U.S. competitiveness and is willing to work with public sectors and other private businesses in order to reverse the struggling economy. The event consisted of the Harvard Business School (HBS) faculty presenting their perspectives on U.S. competitiveness. Faculty speakers included Michael E. Porter, Jan W. Rivkin, and Gary P. Pisano. Following them, select speakers discussed how to successfully bring jobs to and encourage investment in Chicago and the U.S. Two of these presenters included Steven Koch, the Deputy Mayor of the City of Chicago and Jorge Ramirez, the President of the Chicago Federation of Labor.
The HBS defines U.S. competitiveness as “the extent to which firms operating in the U.S. are able to compete successfully in the global economy while supporting high and rising living standards for Americans.” Unfortunately, the United States is losing its edge in terms of how we are able to succeed in global markets. The HBS conducted extensive research by distributing an in-depth survey on U.S. competitiveness to thousands of their alumni. Nearly 10,000 alumni completed the survey where both their opinions and experiences in the business world were recorded.
The survey results reveal that the United States is facing a severe competitiveness problem, which will only get worse unless both private and public sectors work to make changes. Of the survey respondents, 71% expected U.S. competitiveness to decline over the next three years. Respondents were typically pessimistic towards the future of U.S. competitiveness. When faced with the decision to move a business activity, the majority of the respondents would prefer their company to do business outside of the U.S. because the international business climate is friendlier, including access to skilled labor.
The declining competitiveness of the U.S. is a huge problem and a threat to the country as a whole. Respondents believe that America’s tax code, political system, K-12 education system, macroeconomic policies, legal framework, infrastructure, and workforce skills are the key weaknesses in the U.S. business environment. If the U.S. is not able to provide a productive business climate, our economy is going to increasingly suffer and there will be negative consequences. HBS believes that business leaders should lead the way in making decisions that will enhance America’s ability to compete. If this message can reach a majority of businesses in the U.S. and get them to take action, then we can stop this decline and there can be hope for the restoration of U.S. competitiveness and the U.S. economy.