Photo: istock/Vladyslav Otsiatsia
Rise of the robots in emerging economies While robots are intensively used in manufacturing in advanced economies, especially in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Germany, the use of robots in countries such as Brazil, India, Russia and Indonesia is continuously increasing. These countries are also ‘emerging as new manufacturing hubs’ for these robots. As detailed by Siegel and Gibbons (2013) in Rethink Robotics: Finding a Market, “China is expected to lead demand for industrial robots in the next five years […] Rising wages and demands for faster production are convincing Chinese manufacturers to invest in more robots to maintain their competitive advantage as global manufacturing exporter.” According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) there will be more robots in China than in the United States or Europe by 2017. Foxconn, the firm manufacturing Apple’s iPhones and iPods, has reportedly ordered around one million robots to replace around 500,000 lower-skilled routine tasks in manufacturing (Curley, 2012). Among other emerging economies, Brazil has registered a 40% increase in the number of robots per 10,000 workers in manufacturing between 2008 and 2011 (IFR).
Industrial policy beyond the nation state The policy challenge is further complicated by the fact that governance structures based on the nation-state may be too outdated to deal with the nature and pace of technological innovation that are required for modern industrialization. After all, as Emanuel Pastreich wrote in his article, Facebook and the Future of Global Governance, “Facebook in its primitive current form is still years ahead of the United Nations, the World Bank, OECD or any of the international organizations
supposedly engaged in global governance.” Over the next fifty years technological innovations in ICT, the Internet and virtual government (e.g. ‘virtual-citizen schemes’ such as Estonia’s e-residency) are likely to induce significant changes to the nation-state and global governance. These technological innovations can promote inclusive industrialization, by making governments more effective in terms of education, entrepreneurial support and the social contract.
WIM NAUDÉ is professor in Business and Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets at Maastricht University, and Dean of the Maastricht School of Management. PAULA NAGLER is assistant professor at Maastricht University and Research Fellow at UNU-MERIT.