Which Countries are Leaders in Global Innovation? | TopMBA.com

Which Countries are Leaders in Global Innovation?

By Tim Dhoul

Updated August 12, 2016 Updated August 12, 2016

INSEAD, Cornell Johnson and the World Intellectual Property Organization (a specialized agency of the United Nations) recently came together to produce their seventh annual Global Innovation Index (GII).

Now in its seventh year, the Global Innovation Index analyzes 143 of the world’s economies across 81 indicators, measuring their capacity to foster the type of innovation and entrepreneurship that can bring about sustained economic growth. These indicators range from issues of infrastructure to measures of the creative goods, services and online creativity produced.

The availability of quality higher education institutions in each country is also taken into account, and for this the index draws on QS data.

Global Innovation Index vs. MBA study destinations

In the table below, a country’s overall placing in the Global Innovation Index 2014 is compared with its popularity as an MBA study destination among prospective students responding to the QS Applicant Survey 2014.  

From this same report we know that 51% of the MBA students of tomorrow plan to work in the country in which they study and one third cite ‘starting a business’ as one of the reasons behind their wanting to pursue the degree.

So, how well do applicants’ preferred MBA study destinations align with the Global Innovation Index leaders?   

Global Innovation Index vs. MBA study destinations

It seems some countries are currently better known for their innovative capabilities than for their MBA education options.

Countries rated in the GII’s top 10 for their excellence in fostering entrepreneurship, but that lie outside applicants' 10 most-preferred MBA study destinations this year are: Sweden, Finland, Denmark Luxembourg and Hong Kong.

There are entries in the 2013/14 Global 200 Business Schools Report from both Denmark and Hong Kong, such as Copenhagen Business School and HKUST Business School, but neither country can currently compare to the number of quality schools available in the most popular MBA study destinations.

Conversely there are some countries, either established destinations in the world of business education or growing in this vein, which are still some way behind when it comes to fostering a culture of entrepreneurship. 

Top-20 MBA study destinations China, Italy and India place 29th, 31st and 76th respectively in this year’s GII – which could be attributable to the regulatory systems to which businesses must adhere in these countries.  

Meanwhile, the index’s region of Latin America and the Caribbean is led by Barbados (41st), ahead of Chile in 46th position. The islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles both place above South Africa's position in 53rd for the Sub-Saharan Africa region.  

Innovation quality puts US and China top in respective income groups

It should be noted that the index ranks noted above reflect the overall results across all indicators, and comparing economies by variables such as innovation quality and income group can produce a number of differing results.

For innovation quality, the US comes out ahead of Japan and Germany when top-income economies are compared across factors including university performance and the impact of academic research papers. When this same assessment is applied to middle-income economies, China comes top, followed by Brazil and India. 

The gap between these two groups is closing, when it comes to innovation quality says Cornell Johnson’s dean, Soumitra Dutta, a co-author of GII.

 “To close the gap even further, middle-income economies must continue to invest in strengthening their innovation ecosystems and closely monitor the quality of their innovation indicators,” Dutta explained in a press release.

Human resources has been identified as one obstacle in the way of sustained progress in innovation quality, and this factor's importance was emphasized in the Global Innovation Index 2014, after a year in which it noted a slowdown of growth in worldwide spending on research and development (R&D), albeit with strong expenditure expected this year in Asia.   

This article was originally published in October 2014 . It was last updated in August 2016

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Written by

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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