The Competitive Advantage of Russia

By Victoria Chang, Lyn Denend, R. McKern, Katya Reuk
2008 | Case No. IB73

The Russian Federation (Russia) was the largest of the 15 geopolitical entities that emerged in 1991 from the Soviet Union. Despite a series of reforms initiated in 1992 to help the country transition from its centrally planned economy, Russia plunged into a deep recession that was exacerbated by a financial crisis in 1998. It was not until 1999, following eight years of turmoil, macroeconomic stabilization and economic restructuring, that the economy slowly began to grow again. When Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin became president on December 31, 1999, Russia was the world’s tenth-largest economy and its foreign reserves stood at $8.5 billion. By 2007, the country’s economy had become the world’s eighth-biggest, with reserves of $407.5 billion. n May 2008, when Russia’s new president, Dmitry Medvedev, was inaugurated and Putin assumed the role of prime minister, western companies with interests in Russia faced great uncertainty. Would Putin’s hand-picked successor, under Putin’s powerful and watchful eye, continue to enact policies and take actions that would make the business environment increasingly unfavorable to foreign investment? Or, would the new regime chart a more liberal and democratic course for Russia that would enable the country to improve its global competitiveness and allow outside investors to participate in its prosperity? Russia had made great strides to improve its position in the world since the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Yet, it remained to be seen whether the country, particularly under its current circumstances, could create and sustain lasting international competitive advantage, which many western critics believed would require a more democratic political regime. This paper provides a brief overview of the country and explores the status of China’s competitive advantage through the framework of Michael Porter’s Competitive Advantage of Nations.

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