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A study applied to 231 companies by researchers, Juan Carlos Leiva and Ronald Mora of the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (TEC), and Esteban Lafuente (UPC Barcelona Tech), estimated that in Costa Rica their level of competitiveness barely exceeds half of the best possible grade.

Human capital, product innovation, domestic market, business networks, technology, decision making, competitive strategy, marketing, internationalization, and online presence were the 10 competitive pillars that were rated from 0 to 10 in this research called “Global Competitiveness Project Costa Rica”.

The study determined that the average competitiveness of Costa Rican companies analyzed is 5.03 points. However, according to the researcher Juan Carlos Leiva, the rating goes beyond what has been demonstrated by a number. “Beyond creating a numerical value, the proposed index number to measure competitiveness allows identifying competitive strengths and weaknesses”.

Counting on an outstanding human capital is one of the strongest pillars for any company

In addition, the teacher defines competitiveness as the result of combining a total of 10 mutually dependent pillars that allow the company to compete effectively with other agents in the market while allowing its customers to offer valuable goods and services. Taking into account the concept and the results of the study, the competitive strength of Costa Rican companies lies in the following pillars:

  • Human capital, due to the solid training of employees, compensation systems, and management of training programs.
  • Technology, which speaks of the intensive use of newly created technology and ICTs, as well as management systems (quality, environment, and occupational health, and safety).
  • Marketing, aspect focused on the development of pricing strategies, strategic management of distribution channels and use of ICTs as a marketing tool.

On the other hand, the analysis made it possible to detect important competitive deficiencies in key aspects such as online presence and low levels of innovation and/or product/service improvements at the company level, and low levels of product portfolio diversification.

Leiva also highlights how important the varied in the composition and functions of the subjects of analysis of this study, which according to him, reflects a reality of the country. “The profile of the companies surveyed is very heterogeneous, which is consistent with the diversity of the industrial fabric of the country,” said this researcher from the Center for Research in Administration, Economics and Technology Management (CIADEG-TEC) of the School of Administration of Companies.

This project is derived from the work of the Global Competitiveness Project, an academic and research initiative launched by Professors László Szerb of the University of Pécs in Hungary and Esteban Lafuente of UPC Barcelona Tech. The main objective of this scientific community is to contribute to the understanding of the factors that determine business competitiveness and thus promote the potential of companies.

Business competitiveness: Main results

The general results of the Competitiveness Index, which ranges between 0 and 10, indicate that the average competitiveness of the Costa Rican companies analyzed is 5.03 points. For the companies that were surveyed, the level of competitiveness increases with the size of the company, a parameter measured by its number of workers.

Official presentation

The official presentation was held at the Hotel del Guarco, where representatives of the business, academic, local, and central government sectors participated.

After the event, several topics were analyzed; mainly, how to work at improvement points. “To be 5… is to be in the middle, and interestingly, Costa Rica is in the middle of many indexes”, said Cartago Special Economic Zone coordinator, Silvia Hidalgo.

Similarly, she stressed that it is necessary to develop a stronger strategy together to improve the index. “We have the ability to sit down and say… we are going forward”. The objective is for this index to be presented every 2 years.

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