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The Anatomy of the Competitive Advantage: With Mask, Without Mask!

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In the economic literature, the logic of competitive advantage still represents the topic of numerous controversies. The most frequent judgements in the area of international trade invoke “the competitive advantages” of one industry or another in order to justify the economic positions of these industries, but especially in order to justify the national policies used to support those industries. In the orthodox theory of international trade, the argument of (selective) governmental policies … would consist in government’s capacity to distinguish competitive advantages and, consequently, adopt various measures in order to exploit these advantages. In this study, we want to underline the need for a critical re-evaluation of the notions “competitive advantage” and “national competitiveness”. On one hand, we sought to investigate the scientific fundamentals of competitiveness: in a correct competitive environment, should an enterprise gain competitive advantages, this would reflect the quality of its activity that became the source of economic success. Consequently, in other conditions, i.e. in an economic environment distorted by state interventions, obtaining “competitive advantages” becomes circumscribed to rent-seeking activities that aim to capture government privileges.

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Cosmin Marinescu