The CRC Series on Competition, Regulation and Development
Edited by Paul Cook, Colin Kirkpatrick, Martin Minogue and David Parker
Chapter 3: Competition, innovation and economic development: the instituted connection
J.S. Metcalfe, R. Ramlogan and E. Uyarra INTRODUCTION The concepts of competition and its correlates, competitiveness and competitive advantage, feature as highly in the current development agendas and policy debates of developing countries as they do in those of the developed world. As organising concepts aimed at informing policy, they are indispensable yet they are sufficiently opaque to make any discussion of their relation to economic development a matter that is negotiated with some difficulty. Economists write about competition, business scholars about competitive advantage, and the term ‘competitiveness’ is used by both camps but each uses these notions in very different ways. The common ground between these different approaches appears to be barren yet each perspective is indispensable for reaching an understanding that cuts to the heart of the problem of development; namely, the conditions for the growth and application of practical knowledge to better meet human needs. How competition works in the context of a specific developing economy, for they are all different, naturally informs the policy issue of the regulation of competition and the deeper issue of the relation between competition and the elimination of poverty. Ultimately this link is made because competition is a social device for discovering better ways of meeting human needs and thus for improving the efficiency and effectiveness with which resources are defined and applied to economic activity. Competition is a device, therefore, for the augmentation of knowledge and capability. If an economy is to develop, it must be transformed from within, and...
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