Will companies ever stop outsourcing?

The potential of globalization

Against the backdrop of an increasingly diverse world, César Hidalgo from MIT has published the “Atlas of Economic Complexity” together with Harvard University. Because diversity increases complexity and thus leads to a new claim - also, or especially, for The more complex a country's economy is, the more robust it is the western world. The message in the atlas of complexity is simple: the more complex a country's economy is, the more robust it is. The more different branches of specialization function, the less a country (or region) can fluctuate, or the more it is able to build resilience.

The scientists also developed a complexity index, the ECI (Economic Complexity Index). If one compares the two crisis countries Spain (index: 0.933) and Greece (index: 0.214), it becomes clear that Spain is in a significantly better position. Because the more complex and diverse the skills available, the greater the future prospects for a country's economy. The theory behind it is easy to understand: In an increasingly complex, globalized world, your own complexity must grow with it. It must allow a plurality of interpretations and characteristics through diversity. Otherwise your own system is hardly compatible with the rest and falls behind.

This does not necessarily mean that Greece now has to become a high-tech country with an auto industry. But that it differentiates itself in its own strengths and develops innovation structures. Obviously, not all countries in the world are always at the same level of complexity, which is why an imbalance on our planet will probably always remain a fact. At no point in the history of the world has there been such a thing as global equilibrium. Ultimately, globalization means the permanent adjustment of imbalances. But the evolutionary trend towards greater complexity leads us into a future in which the entire networked system “world” can become more robust and stable. Especially if we succeed in adapting our control mechanisms to this higher level of complexity.

China and the Asian egg

If you circle the borders of Asia (from Russia to Indonesia) with a pen, the result is an egg shape. Within this ice are two thirds of the total population of the world. But that's not all: the greatest economic dynamism has been coming from this egg for several decades. What seems like a big innovation for the generations living at the moment is actually a return to old conditions from a historical point of view. As early as 1800, Asia was home to 65 percent of the world's population, and 50 percent of all goods were produced there.

There are many reasons for the subsequent downturn in Asia, or, viewed differently, the upturn in the western world. America's road to success and the industrialization of the West, the conservative leadership of China and thus the low innovative strength of the military and the economy there, to make just a quick analysis. In 1900, at any rate, 57 percent of the people still lived in Asia, but only 20 percent of all goods produced came from this part of the world. If you take the status quo, history reads differently again. According to the historian Joseph Nye, these two thirds of the world's population produce more than half of all products. Trend: rising sharply. Never before has the world produced so many economic goods as it does now. World trade in industrial goods has quintupled in the last 30 years.

The engine of Asia

“Never before has the economic system produced so many industrially manufactured goods as it does today, their volume increased by 55 percent in the first decade of the 21st century,” as the atlas of globalization puts it. There are only five countries that produce around half of the world's goods: China, followed by the USA, Japan, Germany and Italy. So there is no doubt that China is the engine of Asian development. A third of the electronic devices produced worldwide are manufactured there alone: ​​85 percent of DVD players, 80 percent of digital cameras, 50 percent of cell phones. But also half of the solar cells in the world.

But it is no longer just a pure low-cost production philosophy that is driving China forward. The People's Republic also shows its supremacy in terms of innovation dynamics. The number of registered patents in China rose from 6,120 to 16,406 in the period from 2008 to 2011 - that is a growth of 33 percent only in 2011.6 For example, Germany only grew by 5.7 percent in 2011, the USA by 8 percent.

A new multipolar world order

Even if the registered patents do not automatically quantify a country's innovative strength, the rising number in China certainly shows the intention. China also wants to live out its own creativity and innovation with the self-confidence of a global leader. In terms of the number of active scientists, China has almost caught up with the USA, and has long since trumped Europe and Japan. Asia is starting the next round of globalization, with China at the front. In doing so, one makes use of the achievements of the West. All in all, and this is already shown by the financial entanglements among the countries, the result is a multipolar world order in which no one is the “clear leader” any more. Rather, the world is becoming more of a network of strong partners with different potentials. Which is also due to the very different cultural and spatial requirements.