Beyond Benchmarking: Why Countries should Ignore International Rankings

Essay by Robyn Klingler-Vidra and Yu-Ching Kuo: “In Ranking the World, Alexander Cooley and Jack Snyder explore the rise of benchmarking and rankings of countries. They indicate more than 95 such rankings by the time their book was published in 2016. Today, with the success of country rankings such as the Economic Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index and the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Rankings, that number has grown two-fold, as more than 200 rankings systems compare countries for their democratic quality, investor friendliness, economic competitiveness, and more.

But, international benchmarking methods are problematic; they reflect politics, suffer from incomplete coverage, sample size and bias challenges, and institutional bias. Why, then, do countries increasingly rely on them to inform their policymaking? We employ Taiwan, and entrepreneurship rankings, as a lens to explore the accuracy of benchmarking methodologies, and the offer a new way forward. One that is informed by local evidence rather than global rankings, and as such, is better positioned to solve the ecosystem’s pressing challenges…(More)”.