The concept of competitive advantage has always been an indispensable aspect of relations among states in the modern international system. It has provided a frame of reference for the pursuit of national priorities in trade, investment, diplomacy, military capabilities, technology and societal goals generally.
The parameters of competitive national advantage are evolving. An increasingly important benchmark relates to national capacities for discerning patterns of change and their trajectories, and for applying to strategic policy making the strategic foresight that such capacities can provide. This entails a national capacity for assessment and analysis that is underpinned by strategic foresight as well as a positive engagement with the product on the part of ministerial decision makers.
In that context, some countries are astutely consolidating long-established futures capabilities and focusing them on their practical policymaking; others are moving quickly to acquire such capabilities and focus; while others again are much slower to do so, either unconvinced of the relevance or unwilling to marshal the necessary resources and skills. For Australian public policy, in particular, there are important implications in this evolution of the framework of competitive advantage and its consequences. In particular, there are real advantages to be gained by Australia in the application of the best-practice standards which many other countries are now using to enhance their capabilities in trend and futures research.