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July 22, 2008

Making Uruguay Globally Competitive

Marianna Macri
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CBS Professors Nelson Fraiman and Medini Singh recently offered their views on the pace of economic development in Uruguay to the newspaper El Observador (download pdf of article here), addressing how the country could increase its levels of productivity and innovation in order to rival global competitors.

Calling Uruguay “stuck in time,” Fraiman and Singh asserted that the mindset of Uruguayan entrepreneurs has to change in order for the country to catch up to the rapid pace of development in other emerging nations, particularly India and China.

“Unlike India or China, here I don’t see hunger in the people,” Fraiman said. “Uruguayans are content, and that can be a problem.”

Both Fraiman and Singh said that Uruguay’s small geographic size should not hold it back, and proposed that if local entrepreneurs could optimistically embrace change and let go of a compulsion towards conformity, the country would be able to take advantage of limitless possibilities.

The only challenge now is to identify which business activity to focus on in order to distinguish Uruguay from other emerging nations and add unique value to the global market.

Fraiman proposed that Uruguay could exceed competitors in offering knowledge-based services, and Singh said he believes that it’s necessary for the country to focus on technical education in management and technology, “because this is what the world needs today.”

This discussion came out of a workshop to Uruguayan entrepreneurs last month on “Strategy and Operational Excellence for Global Competitiveness.”