This paper aims at providing introductory information for all those who are interested in the topic but have not yet been confronted to a greater extent with the scientific background to it. Many citizens, members of social movements and civil society organisations are concerned about the potential impacts of the competitiveness discourse and the resulting policies on the social and environmental realm. While their expertise lies in the social and environmental areas, they are often not familiar with the competitiveness discourse and its snares. There is also substantial terminological and con-ceptual confusion in this discourse which sometimes even seems to be promoted deliberately. In this context, the paper may serve as a background paper.