Harald Bergsteiner, Gayle C. Avery, 2018
Misleading Country Rankings Perpetuate Destructive Business Practices

Journal of Business Ethics
Open Access, online first

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 neo-liberal traditions and its rankings on the indicators.