… are unlikely to find much interest in the latest project from Harvard business professor Michael Porter. Porter describes the work of Harvard’s U.S. Competitiveness Project in a new Fortune magazine column.
Government has a profound impact on the health of the commons and must do its part to make the U.S. attractive for business. At the same time, business leaders influence the commons on which they draw. In doing so, they open up a valuable opportunity: When a firm improves the commons, it often boosts its own profitability while also advancing the prospects of other U.S.-based businesses. That means business leaders shouldn’t simply accept the business environment as a given, set by government. They can — and should — enhance the commons in ways that boost their own long-run profits.
To understand why that’s critical to America’s future, we need to be clear on what competitiveness means. The U.S. is competitive to the extent that firms operating here can compete successfully in the global economy while supporting high and rising living standards for the average American. Doing one without the other means we aren’t really competitive. A high-wage economy like the U.S. can achieve both only by being a highly productive location, one where firms can create innovative, distinctive products and produce them efficiently.
Of course, one need not hold a professor’s post at Harvard to value the benefits of competition.