Responsible Consumption and Production

Living Edition
| Editors: Walter Leal Filho, Anabela Marisa Azul, Luciana Brandli, Pinar Gökcin Özuyar, Tony Wall

Sustainable Competitiveness at the National, Regional, and Firm Levels

  • Johanna KirjavainenEmail author
  • Natalia SaukkonenEmail author
Living reference work entry



The survival and success of organizations and various agents increasingly depend on competitiveness, broadly defined as the ability to compete. Competition enables the efficient functioning of markets and adds pressure on organizations to improve their existing goods and services and innovate new ones (Berger 2008). The term competitiveness originates from the Latin word competer, which according to Webster’s English Dictionary means involvement in a business rivalry for markets. However, competitiveness is a complex and multidimensional concept commonly applied at multiple levels, for example, those of national, regional, and firm. A common conception is that competitiveness is by its nature a relative notion, inherently implying the aim of competing to perform better compared to rivals in terms of, for example, access to resources. The meaning and...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Aiginger K, Firgo M (2017) Regional competitiveness: connecting an old concept with new goals. In: Huggins R, Thompson P (eds) Handbook of regions and competitiveness: contemporary theories and perspectives on economic development, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd: Cheltenham, p 592Google Scholar
  2. Ambec S et al (2013) The Porter hypothesis at 20: can environmental regulation enhance innovation and competitiveness? Rev Environ Econ Policy 7(1):2–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Annoni P, Dijkstra L (2013) EU regional competitiveness index. Publications Office, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  4. Annoni P, Kozovska K (2010) EU regional competitiveness index. Publications Office, LuxemburgGoogle Scholar
  5. Antonelli C (2000) Collective knowledge communication and innovation: the evidence of technological districts. Reg Stud 34(6):535–547CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Balkytė A, Tvaronavičienė M (2010) Perception of competitiveness in the context of sustainable development: facets of “sustainable competitiveness”. J Bus Econ Manag 11(2):341–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barney J (1991) Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. J Manag 17(1):99–120. Accessed 18 May 2018Google Scholar
  8. Berger T (2008) Concepts of national competitiveness. J Int Bus Econ 9(1):91–111Google Scholar
  9. Berger T (2011) An overview and analysis on indices of regional competitiveness. Rev Econ Finance 2:17–33Google Scholar
  10. Berger T, Bristow G (2009) Competitiveness and the benchmarking of nations – a critical reflection. Int Adv Econ Res 15(4):378–392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bhawsar P, Chattopadhyay U (2015) Competitiveness: review, reflections and directions. Glob Bus Rev 16(4):665–679CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Bilbao-Terol A, Arenas-Parra M, Onopko-Onopko V (2017) Measuring regional sustainable competitiveness: a multi-criteria approach. Oper Res 1–24Google Scholar
  13. Boschma R (2004) Competitiveness of regions from an evolutionary perspective. Reg Stud 38(9):1001–1014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Boschma R (2005) Proximity and innovation: a critical assessment. Reg Stud 39(1):61–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bristow G (2005) Everyone’s a ‘winner’: problematising the discourse of regional competitiveness. J Econ Geogr 5(3):285–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bristow G (2010) Critical reflections on regional competitiveness: theory, policy and practice. Routledge, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Camagni R (2002) On the concept of territorial competitiveness: sound or misleading? Urban Stud 39(13):2395–2411CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cellini R, Soci A (2002) Pop competitiveness. Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Q Rev 55(220):71–101Google Scholar
  19. Cho D-S (1998) From national competitiveness to bloc and global competitiveness. Compet Rev 8(1):11–23Google Scholar
  20. Cho T-S, Moon H-C (2001) From Adam Smith to Michael Porter: evolution of competitiveness theory. World Scientific, SingaporeGoogle Scholar
  21. Dijkstra L, Annoni P, Kozovska K (2011) A new regional competitiveness index: theory, methods and findings. European Commission, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  22. dos Santos SF, Brandi HS (2014) A canonical correlation analysis of the relationship between sustainability and competitiveness. Clean Techn Environ Policy 16(8):1735–1746CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Doyle E, Perez-Alaniz M (2017) From the concept to the measurement of sustainable competitiveness: social and environmental aspects. Entrep Bus Econ Rev 5(4):35–59Google Scholar
  24. Elkington J (1994) Towards the sustainable corporation: win-win-win business strategies for sustainable development. Calif Manag Rev 36(2):90–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Elkington J (1997) Cannibals with forks: the triple bottom line of 21st century business. Capstone, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  26. European Commission (2010) Europe 2020: a strategy for smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth. Publications Office of the European Union, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  27. Hart SL, Ahuja G (1996) Does it pay to be green? An empirical examination of the relationship between emission reduction and firm performance. Bus Strateg Environ 5(1):30–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Huggins R, Johnston A (2009) Knowledge networks in an uncompetitive region: SME innovation and growth. Growth Chang 40(2):227–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jaffe AB, Palmer K (1997) Environmental regulation and innovation: a panel data study. Rev Econ Stat 79(4):610–619CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jaffe AB, Newell RG, Stavins RN (2002) Environmental policy and technological change. Environ Resour Econ Jun 22(1–2):41–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krugman P (1994) Competitiveness: a dangerous obsession. Foreign Aff 73(2):28–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lawson C (1999) Towards a competence theory of the region. Camb J Econ 23(2):151–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Malecki EJ (2007) Cities and regions competing in the global economy: knowledge and local development policies. Environ Plann C 25(5):638–654CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ochel W, Röhn O (2006) Ranking of countries – the WEF, IMD, Fraser and Heritage indices, CESifo DICE Report, ISSN 1613-6373, ifo Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung an der Universität München, München 4(2):48-60Google Scholar
  35. Porter ME (1981) The contributions of industrial organization to strategic management. Acad Manag Rev 6(4):609–620Google Scholar
  36. Porter ME (1990) The competitive advantage of nations. Harv Bus Rev 68:73–93Google Scholar
  37. Porter ME (1991) America’s green strategy. Sci Am 96Google Scholar
  38. Porter ME, van der Linde C (1995) Toward a new conception of the environment-competitiveness relationship. J Econ Perspect 9(4):97–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Prahalad CK, Hamel G (1990) The core competence of the corporation D. Hahn & B Taylor, eds. Harv Bus Rev 68(3):79–91Google Scholar
  40. Reinhardt FL (1998) Environmental product differentiation: implications for corporate strategy. Calif Manag Rev 40(4):43–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ricardo D (1971) The principles of political economy and taxation (1817). Penguin, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar
  42. Rugman AM (1991) Diamond in the rough. Bus Q 55(3):61–64Google Scholar
  43. Smith A (1937) An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations (1776). In: Eliot CW (ed) The Harvard classics. P.F. Collier & Son Corporation, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  44. Smith AD (2007) Making the case for the competitive advantage of corporate social responsibility. Bus Strategy Ser 8(3):186–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stiglitz JE, Sen A, Fitoussi J-P (2009) Report by the commission on the measurement of economic performance and social progress, Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, ParisGoogle Scholar
  46. Thaler R, Sunstein C (2008) Nudge: improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  47. Thore S, Tarverdyan R (2016) The sustainable competitiveness of nations. Technol Forecast Soc Chang 106:108–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Thurow LC et al (1994) The fight over competitiveness: a zero-sum debate. Foreign Aff 73(4):186–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Triebswetter U, Wackerbauer J (2008) Integrated environmental product innovation and impacts on company competitiveness: a case study of the automotive industry in the region of Munich. Environ Policy Gov 18(1):30–44Google Scholar
  50. UN (2015) Sustainable development goals. Accessed 17 May 2018
  51. Varadarajan PR (1992) Marketing’s contribution to strategy: the view from a different looking glass. J Acad Mark Sci 20(4):335–343CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wade-Benzoni KA (1999) Thinking about the future: an intergenerational perspective on the conflict and compatibility between economic and environmental interests. Am Behav Sci 42(8):1393–1405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Walley N, Whitehead B (1994) It’s not easy being green. Harv Bus Rev 72:46–52Google Scholar
  54. WCED (1987) Our common future: report of the world commission on environment and development. UN, GenebraGoogle Scholar
  55. WEF (2011) The global competitiveness report 2011–2012. World Economic Forum, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  56. WEF (2012) The global competitiveness report 2012–2013. World Economic Forum, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  57. WEF (2014) The global competitiveness report 2014–2015. World Economic Forum, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  58. WEF (2015) The global competitiveness report 2015–2016. World Economic Forum, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  59. Weiss EB (1993) Environmentally sustainable competitiveness: a comment. Yale Law J 102(8):2123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wernerfelt B (1984) A resource-based view of the firm. Strateg Manag J 5(2):171–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Wong V, Turner W, Stoneman P (1996) Marketing strategies and market prospects for environmentally-friendly consumer products. Br J Manag 7(3):263–281CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Industrial Engineering and ManagementTampere UniversityTampereFinland

Section editors and affiliations

  • Ulla Saari
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept of Industrial Management, Center for Innovation and Technology ResearchTampere UniversityTampereFinland