The Emerging Competitive Paradigm

This paper is part of a larger project that considers the societal sources of national dynamism and competitive advantage. The first phase of analysis generated an intriguing insight: that competitive success in great-power rivalries comes, in part, from being effectively aligned to the demands of a historical era. Nations with the capacity to match the economic, technological, social, and military requirements of their time stand to gain tremendous competitive advantage. This paper investigates that idea in more depth, offering one theory of an emerging competitive paradigm and defining indicators of success.

To explore the idea of competitive paradigm, RAND researchers undertook four phases of analysis. First, the researchers identified evidence of earlier competitive paradigms in periodized treatments of economic, social, and military history was identified. Second, they surveyed long-term trend analyses that laid out specific scenarios for future strategic paradigms. Third, major economic, political, social, technological, and military trends today—the building blocks of an emerging paradigm—were independently reviewed. Fourth, using that analysis, this paper outlines one interpretation of the essential character of the emerging competitive paradigm.

This work was prepared for the Office of Net Assessment and completed within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division.

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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