Entrepreneurial talent is a critical component of both competitiveness and innovation.

A single genius cannot power an entire company. The myth of the omniscient leader has been debunked and for success in this competitive world, entrepreneurial talent needs to hum through the organisation.

Once thought to be the sole domain of start-ups or small companies, entrepreneurial talent is a vital engine for larger organisations. One definition is “the ability to discover, select, process, interpret and use the data necessary to take decisions in an uncertain world and, then, to exploit market opportunities”.

Other aspects of start-ups have changed over the past decade. Once celebrated locations are not the only places to secure funding, as we have seen in the push away from overcrowded, overpriced Silicon Valley.

Furthermore, the number of zeros involved in seed money has increased.

In France, for example, “nowadays companies who raise dozens of millions do not make headlines anymore, while five years ago they did,” said Mazzella.

Thailand ranks 6th most innovative country in Asia, and 3rd in Asean after Singapore and Malaysia
Thailand ranks 6th most innovative country in Asia, and 3rd in Asean after Singapore and Malaysia

The top 10 of the GTCI 2019

The top 10 of the GTCI 2019 includes the same countries as last year. They all have invested in creating and encouraging entrepreneurial talent. These nations are open economies with a strong emphasis on education. Innovation and talent impact are the areas where they perform particularly well.


Switzerland (1) tops the table once again. It is the global leader in talent retention, as well as in the skills aspects of the index, giving the small European country excellent access to entrepreneurial talent. It leads the GTCI in lifelong learning, sustainability and employability. One of the two non-European countries in the top 10, Singapore (2), a small Asian country and a talent hub, also scores very high on skills.

The United States (3) continues to flourish, especially with regards to growth. Norway (4) is a global leader in harnessing talent but falls behind in openness. Other Nordic countries – Denmark (5), Finland (6) and Sweden (7) – all retain their talent and are considered great places to live.


With high ranking in education, lifelong learning and growth opportunities, the Netherlands (8) can move up if it does more to attract talent. The United Kingdom (9) continues to draw international talent. Rounding out the top 10, Luxembourg (10) relies on its outstanding international reputation in the area of finance and excels in retaining local talent.

Clearly, as transformation, digitalisation and globalisation continue apace, a lack of entrepreneurial talent would hobble organisations as they attempted to grow.

Entrepreneurial talent is a scarce resource yet it is found in every country. Rapid (and sometimes unpredictable) technological changes as well as competition for intellectual capital will drive the future of work.

This year’s Global Talent Competitiveness Index, which covers 93 percent of the world population, focuses on entrepreneurial talent and global competitiveness. To withstand turbulent markets, organisations need to find ways to foster entrepreneurial talent. We have seen that a collaborative, open approach leads to greater success in governments, education and business.

Companies as varied as BlaBlaCar, a ride-sharing unicorn based in France, and Haier, a globally prominent appliance supplier headquartered in China, demonstrate how entrepreneurial talent buoys an organisation above the competition and buffers it against the waves of political and economic uncertainty.

In an interview with GTCI, Frédéric Mazzella, founder and chairman of BlaBlaCar, told us how companies need to encourage a growth mindset in their workers. All kinds of talent are necessary, even in start-ups. In smaller companies, unlike unwieldy multinationals, dispassionate workers have nowhere to hide. In the world of start-ups, there is a constant need for talents who are always willing to learn.

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INSEAD Knowledge is the expert opinion and management insights portal of INSEAD, The Business School for the World. Knowledge showcases the latest business thinking and views from award-winning faculty and global contributors

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