New Zealand has slipped down the table in this year's World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY), falling behind the likes of Ireland and the UAE.
The rankings, compiled by global business school IMB, measure how well countries manage their economic and human resources to increase their prosperity.
New Zealand’s ranking fell from 21 in 2011 to 24 this year, leaving it below Ireland (20) and Austria (21), but ahead of Japan (27) and France (29).
The most competitive of the 59 ranked economies in 2012 are Hong Kong, the United States and Switzerland.
“US competitiveness has a deep impact on the rest of the world because it is uniquely interacting with every economy, advanced or emerging. No other nation can exercise such a strong 'pull effect' on the world,” says director of IMD’s World Competitiveness Centre Professor Stephane Garelli.
All Asian economies have declined apart from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Korea. Latin America also had a tough year, with every nation falling except Mexico.
IMB also surveyed more than 4,200 executives across the 59 WCY economies on their attitudes to globalisation in their respective societies.
New Zealand was in the bottom half of the countries surveyed in the 35th spot with a score of 6.13/10, just above Kazakhstan. This represented a lukewarm attitude toward globalisation by society generally.
This is despite successive New Zealand governments and businesses pushing an export-orientated economy and outward-looking philosophy in general.
Globalsation is still seen as a positive development in Ireland, Scandinavia, Chile, the UAE and many Asian economies. But attitudes are much more negative in Greece, Russia, most of Eastern Europe, a growing part of Latin America, and in France.