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Talent-Competitiveness of Hungary – No Hope for Fleurs du Mal?

Despite the popular belief, the Hungarian education has never been a world class one. There will be no significant improvements without strategic governmental actions, i.e. the flowers of decay, Fleurs du Mal, will not arise spontaneously. – Finding from our paper.

Live Long Talents

Tim Harford sensitively illustrated in one of his latest books (Adapt) that talent is often a matter of tenacity, a minimum of 10,000 hours hard-work and diligence. Just to name a few examples, Mozart, Michael Jordan, great golfers, outstanding tennis players and many others deliberately dedicated such volume of time to become masters of their activities. Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman also mentioned in his latest book (Thinking, Fast and Slow) that even chess masters had to practice approx. 10,000 hours to reach out the highest levels of performance.
Talents seem to be made rather than born. In other words, excellence can be cultivated in a country’s innovation ecosystem if personal willingness meets appropriate environment offering better opportunities (i.e. talent-fostering professional education system, learning oriented business sector etc.).
The dynamic configuration of the processes among public, private and civic sectors’ stakeholders within an innovation ecosystem exerts influence on the availability of talent of which knowledge is a prerequisite of any value creation. Talent is crucial for adopt to changes, to propel novelty along a learning curve and to gain more competitiveness at micro and macro levels alike.
On the one hand, the issues of how to develop, how to attract, and how to keep top talent have become an important priority on the policy agenda. On the other hand, this would require having a picture about trends and current status on talent-competitiveness of the given country.

IMD World Talent Reports 2015 and 2016

IMD World Competitiveness Center published today the 2016 edition of its well-known World Talent Report (henceforward: IMD WTR 2016) which paints a general picture about the extent to which countries cultivate talent to sustain the talent pool available for enterprises operating in those economies.
The report assesses countries on three aggregated factors – investment and development; appeal and readiness – which in turn are derived from a much broader range of indicators. The ranking for 2016 covers 61 countries mostly from the advanced world (See the ranking either in IMD World Talent Report 2016)

The bird’s eye view on Hungary

In the 2016 edition of IMD World Talent Report, Hungary’s relative position seems to have been undergone an amelioration since it has ended at the 50th place out of 61 countries ranked compared to its 56th position in the 2015 ranking.
This movement has not been primarily driven by real and effective improvements in the Hungarian education system or the talent-attracting capacity of the Hungarian innovation ecosystem, however. This change can be explained by huge changes in our neighbourhood compared to the rankings of 2015 (e.g. Ukraine and South Africa have improved by 6 and 9 places, respectively; while Mongolia, India, Colombia have declined by 4, 8 and 4 places, respectively. In the meantime, Visegrad countries have either declined slightly (Czech Republic has suffered from a 1 place decline), or improved further (Poland has improved by 3 places, Slovakia by 8 places).
Our new paper debunks the popular belief about the world class performance of the Hungarian education system. In so doing, the paper offers some ammunition to better understand Hungary’s position in the IMD World Talent Report 2015 (IMD WTR 2015). Firstly, it gives a brief overview of the methodology of the IMD WTR by highlighting its main features. Secondly, it presents the 2015 ranking and puts the focus on Hungary’s withering talent competitiveness.
The paper conveys the message that there will be no significant improvements without strategic governmental actions, i.e. the flowers of decay, Fleurs du Mal, will not arise spontaneously. The paper is a clarion call for an overarching and consistent reform package which is a must in the education system to foster talent utilisation. However, the aforementioned package is likely to be insufficient unless the economic policy addresses the relevant shortcomings of the Hungarian innovation ecosystem.

This post is based on a study on the Hungarian talent-competitiveness, which is available here.