Thanks for a great post based on some excellent analysis.
I think you allude to a key question here. How do countries get to the optimum solution from where they are?
My feeling is that having a clear view of where they want to be in the future is better than taking an incremental approach but it would be great to see the evidence. If my hypothesis is true, countries need strong political leadership and high quality institutions to ensure credibility in the journey and it's the job of development institutions to support the transition.
It looks like your analysis confirms that the prize is worth striking out for.