Today’s society is characterized by being enormously competitive, and it is common for each and every one of us to be required to have a high level of competence in different areas, domains and fields.

This is something that is very much present in our daily lives, and both competition and competitiveness are often linked and go hand in hand, especially in the field of work, and are therefore sometimes confused with each other. In reality, however, they are different concepts that refer to different constructs. That is why, in order to clarify how they are distinguished, throughout this article we are going to see what the differences are between competition and competitiveness .

Competitiveness and competition: a general definition

In order to clarify the main differences between competition and competitiveness, it may be interesting first to establish a general definition of each of these two concepts.

We understand competitiveness as the type of interpersonal relationship that is established between two or more persons or groups with the aim of obtaining an end or fulfilling a given objective, in which at least one of the parties intends to be better or to obtain better results than their competitors.

The competitive person seeks to be first or best at something, in constant comparison with the performance of others, and often seeks success and the benefits of being ahead of others, either by striving to outperform competitors or by reducing competition in other ways.

As far as competence is concerned, this is understood as the ability to develop, progress and master a skill . It is the development and acquisition of expertise in something, often obtained through effort and repeated practice. The competent person is one who is able to cope with the task at hand very effectively. On the other hand, the term competence also has among its meanings that of dispute or confrontation with others for the same purpose.

The main differences between competition and competitiveness

Competitiveness and competition are concepts often closely linked in the world of business and economy . Both require a great deal of effort on the part of the individual and often appear together: to be competitive one usually needs to have a minimum of competition, while it is often possible to improve the competence in a task by competing with others.

But as we have already mentioned, and as can be extrapolated from their different definitions, both concepts have some key differences that distinguish them . Among them, some of the main differences are the following.

1. Focus on the task vs. others

One of the most marked differences between competitiveness and competition can be found in the individual’s focus.

Competitiveness means focusing on what others are doing and comparing one’s performance with others. We look at the position we have in relation to others.

The competence, on the contrary, is focused rather on the task to be undertaken , being the performance in the activity what will mark the level of competence.

2. Different objectives

The objective of competition and competitiveness is also different.

The objective of the competence is mainly the approach to the proposed goal or goals , trying only to do the task efficiently and in any case to improve one’s own ability.

In the case of competitiveness, what is sought is to be above or to be superior to the rest, regardless of individual performance or level of competence. In other words, it is a will to improve in relation to what others are doing.

3. Point of view

The concepts of competence and competitiveness can both refer to the existence of a situation of conflict between persons or groups, but they do so from different positions .

Competitiveness refers to the attitude or way of acting that a person takes towards those he considers his rivals. Thus, it is a concept that puts the focus on an individual element , leaving aside the rest of the parts that intervene in a competition context.

Competition, when understood in the sense of conflict or dispute, refers to the situation or existence of “others” with whom to compete, rather than the attitude taken towards it. Therefore, describes a general context in which there are many agents interacting with each other , and does not focus on an individual (whether person or company).

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