Competition has the following characteristics/elements:
1. Continues process:
Competition is a continues process. It never comes to an end. As goods are limited in supply there is always competition among the people for procurement of these things. The desire for status, power, wealth etc. makes competition a continues process in human society.
2. Universal process:
Competition is a universal social process and it exists in all types of societies whether primitive, savage or civilised. It is also found in all classes of people such as scientists, engineers, doctors, students, farmers, lawyers and the like. Business people compete for customers, lawyers for clients, doctors for patients, students for ranks or distinctions, political parties for powers, young men and women for mates and so on.
3. Impersonal or personal activity:
Competition is normally directed towards goal and not against any individual. Sometimes it takes place without the knowledge of the existence of other. Those who take part in the competition do not know one another at all. So it is an impersonal activity. For example, in case of civil service examination the competitors are not aware of one another.
Competition may be also personal when two individuals contest for election to an office. When competition becomes personal it leads to a rivalry and results in an open conflict.
4. Unconscious activity:
Competition is an unconscious activity. It takes place on an unconscious level. Many times competitors do not know about themselves but they are primarily concerned with the achievement of goal.
5. Governed by norms:
Moral norms or legal rules always govern and control competition. Competitors are, expected to use fair tactics and not cut-throat devices.
6. Constructive or destructive competition:
Competition may be healthy or unhealthy. If one of the two or more competitors tries to win at the expense of the others, it is destructive. Sometimes, big industrialists or capitalists resort such kind of competition and make the small business men bankrupt. But constructive; competition is mutually stimulating and helpful. It contributes to the welfare of the competitors. For example, farmers may compete to raise the best crops, workers in a factory to maximise production and so on.