Dec 18, 2019

Report: Harvard business leaders pessimistic about the U.S. competing globally and improving workers' living standards

Survey results for U.S. competitiveness

From Harvard Business School's report, "A Recovery Squandered: The State of U.S. Competitiveness 2019"

A key group of decision-makers has doubts about the United States' ability to compete globally while raising living standards for workers, according to Harvard Business School's new alumni survey on U.S. competitiveness.

Why it matters: The results reflect concerns that the economy's record-long expansion has not been spread broadly among all Americans — a sentiment with implications for the 2020 election.

Between the lines: The respondents aren't representative of the general public, but they do represent a sample that tends to hold leadership positions and are "on the front lines of global capitalism," according to the report.

  • Yes, but: The pessimism is partisan. 51% of Republican alumni expected America's competitiveness to improve in the next three years, compared to only 24% of Democrats.

What they're saying: "The United States has done remarkably little to address underlying structural weaknesses in our economy and our society," the authors of the report write.

  • Structural failures in the U.S. political system are to blame, the authors say in this study and previous ones.

Of note: Harvard Business School asked alumni about big businesses' role in improving or worsening political dysfunction.

  • Most alumni don't believe their own companies engage in politics in ways that are "adverse to the public interest," but 49% said "business as a whole" did.

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