Is competition good, bad, or a little of both?
On many levels, a healthy spirit of competition can bring out the very best in people. It can help to instill drive and motivation, and allow individuals to partake in a community whose primary focus is the recognition and acknowledgement of success. Where this might become a negative element could be if the spirit of competition morphs into "winning at all costs." At this point is where one would be able to see the unhealthiness of victory, the self interest, and the undermining of the competitive spirit evident. When anyone takes shortcuts which reduce the dignity of the participants, competition becomes unhealthy. Additionally, if competition is used to belittle or put someone onto a lower sphere of self esteem, one can sense its undesirable side.
A lack of competition is sure to breed mediocrity. One example which cites the positive results of competition is merit-based pay. If no one feels the need to improve their performance and they know that their job is secure, what is their motivation to improve or even to do an adequate job?
The notion of competition as it relates to unions is interesting as well. Once union members are assured that their future is secure it is unlikely that they have any reason to ameliorate their performance. Collective bargaining does not encourage people to do their best; if anything, it protects the worst-performing individuals and limits the potential of the most competant people.
Competition can lead only to better goods and services for consumers.
I believe competition can be good when it motivates a person to want to do better. When competing with oneself, competition is a healthy thing! Perhaps that person can take a prior performance and seek to go further than he has in the past, or maybe break a previous record that he set. Competition isn't good when a person becomes so obsessed with trying to outdo someone else that he loses sight of the overall picture of just trying to do well. Ugly things get said, unkind acts are committed, and often injury is inflicted, all in the name of competition.
As the question is put up in business section I will focus my response to competition in business.
Competition has its advantages as well as limitation, but on the whole it has been demonstrated that in business competition is essential in the interest of consumers.
The biggest advantage of competition is that it forces businesses to become responsive to the needs and preferences of customers. In absences of competition all business will become monopolies, manipulating prices and supplies to their advantage. The harmful effect of such monopolistic behavior is now well recognized by experts, and as a result most of the democratic countries toady have laws that restrict the activities of monopolies.
However, competition can become unhealthy also. Companies may spend too much money unwisely on advertisement, hurting their own interest as well as wasting resources of the society. Some companies may engage in unhealthy price cutting. This may result some company closing down. Such behavior also hurt the common interest of society by making some productive resources idle. Also multiple suppliers tend of a product tend to restrict the ability of suppliers to draw full benefits of economies of scale.