The Netherlands back in the top 5 of most competitive countries

According to the IMD Business School’s World Competitiveness Ranking 2017, the Netherlands has made it back to the top 5 of the most competitive countries in the world after 15 years.

About the ranking

A research group at IMD business school in Switzerland has been publishing annual rankings since 1989. In 2017, a total of 63 countries were ranked, with Hong Kong in first place, Switzerland in second and Singapore in third. It was also the first year that Cyprus and Saudi Arabia made it onto the list.

Interestingly, the USA ranked fourth; its lowest ranking in five years, down one position from third place in 2016.

How the Netherlands ranked

The Netherlands made it back to fifth place after fifteen years of ranking outside of the top five.

The Netherlands fell off the IMD top five competitive countries list between 2003 and 2016 because of political instability.

IMD methodology

The ranking uses 260 indicators which are then broken down; two-thirds come from hard data such as the national employment rate and the other third derive from responses to a survey about business issues like corruption, environmental concerns and the quality of life.

In 2017, the IMD added an additional ranking alongside the World Competitiveness Ranking 2017, which measures a country’s ability to adopt and explore digital technologies leading to the transformation in government practices, business models and society in general.

This separate ranking is called the World Digital Competitiveness Ranking (DCR), and is based on 50 criteria broken down into three factors including, Knowledge, a countries capacity to adopt new technologies, Technology Environment, its ability to develop digital innovations,  and Future Readiness, which looks at how adaptive a particular economy is.  

The overall trend

According to Professor Arturo Bris, Director of the IMD World Competitiveness Center, the largest contribution to a country’s ranking was related to government and business efficiency and productivity. 

The Netherlands higher ranking in 2017 is down to its improved governmental efficiency. José Caballero, IMD economist stated that the Netherlands’ domestic commercial activities, increased productivity and investments were the biggest factors. Social flexibility, education and employee skills also contributed greatly.

Top 10 most competitive countries

Here are 10 of the most competitive countries in the world according to the IMD:
1. Hong Kong
2. Switzerland
3. Singapore
4. USA
5. The Netherlands
6. Ireland
7. Denmark
8. Luxembourg
9. Sweden
10. UAE

Top 10 most digital competitive countries

Here are 10 of the most competitive countries in the world according to the IMD:
1. Singapore
2. Sweden
3. USA
4. Finland
5. Denmark
6. The Netherlands
7. Hong Kong
8. Switzerland
9. Canada
10. Norway


Kiri Scully


Kiri Scully

Raised a global citizen, to an Irish father and American mother, Kiri has lived and worked in five countries over three continents. Fuelled by culture curiosity at an early age,...

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