Professor Michael Enright co-authored the groundbreaking report ‘Upgrading New Zealand’s Competitive Advantage’ with Michael Porter and Graham Crocombe in 1991.
He now heads up economic and strategic consulting firm Enright, Scott & Associates which runs out of both Hong Kong and Singapore.
In his recent keynote address in Auckland at The Competitiveness Institute conference, Enright said he is working on follow-on project looking at New Zealand’s current and future competitiveness.
Project sponsors include New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, the Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Science and Innovation, Department of Labour, Economic Development Agencies New Zealand (EDANZ), and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).
Enright says the project plans to look at how New Zealand cuts it against number of different other-country groupings. Work is still at an initial stage.
“It amazes me when I come to New Zealand to see that the dominant benchmarking is against small OECD countries,” says Enright.
“I understand that, in sense. You are looking to see how you can improve and what you can learn from them.
“But I’d be looking for the market opportunities and for that you benchmark against where your markets are: particularly in your region.”
Enright says it is New Zealand’s fortune to be in the most rapidly growing economic region of the world.
“So we’re looking at the differences and the complementarities: the things that New Zealand does better than its neighbours.”
These things will be New Zealand’s source of advantage as it leverages into those markets, says Enright.
“I almost cry when I see developing countries with per capita incomes of US$2000 per year looking at competitiveness analyses and deciding to invest in the next biotech incubator,” he says.
“I’ve seen that happen.”
Enright says each country must use competitiveness analysis in the context of its own benchmarks, comparisons and stage of development.
As part of his project, Enright will also benchmark New Zealand against the world’s best: an exercise which he describes as producing “aspirational” data and ideas.
He will also compare New Zealand to similar small, open OECD economies.
“This may highlight what may be more achievable: and that’s probably more inspirational than aspirational,” he says.