This project aims at analyzing how digital technologies impact on the (re)organization of production and innovation networks and processes, and how they may contribute to increase companies’ productivity and international competitiveness.
Digital technologies, skills and international competitiveness
About the project
Principal Investigators: Lucia Piscitello, Sergio Mariotti
Funders: (some) applications submitted
Duration: January 2019 –
Partners: University of Reading – Henley Business School (Professor D. Castellani), University of Manchester – Alliance Business School (Professor S. Massini)
KEY RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The project tackles the thorny issue about the impact of the adoption of new digital industrial technologies on one side, and internationalization (i.e. movement of companies’ activities across borders) on the other side, on the employment polarization and skills requirements in European companies.
Automation and new digital industrial technologies (known as Industry 4.0) have been claimed to increase manufacturing productivity, shift economic activities, foster industrial growth, and modify the profile of the workforce creating new job opportunities; however, at the same time, it threatens established business models and can lead to job losses because it allows the automation (or the elimination) of tasks that previously required manual work (BCG, 2015). In fact, recent data show a decline in labour productivity, and an increasing employment volatility, despite the increase in digitalization and automation (OECD, 2018).
Likewise, internationalization has been mainly considered as mere delocalization of domestic activities and, therefore, threatening the local workforce (e.g. Autor et al., 2015), while the possible virtuous circle fostered by the successful growth of companies in larger (foreign) markets have been generally overlooked.
Thus, the literature on the impact of technological change on the one hand, and on internationalisation of activities on the other, has so far suggested competing hypotheses, and the empirical evidence provided so far has not helped to clarify the issue. In fact, it has been generally adopted aggregated unit of analysis (regions, countries, see e.g. the recent OECD, 2018), where compensation effects may occur thus mixing up the evidence about the mechanisms and the direct effects of the new technologies and of the internationalization occurring within the focal actors, i.e. companies. This is due mainly to lack of reliable/systematic data on the adoption of new digital industrial technologies at the company level.
Thus, the aims of the project are the followings:
- To study the impact of new digital technologies, and internationalisation on companies’ demand for labor and skills, taking into account differences between digital technologies constituting the new industrial revolution (i.e Big Data and analytics, Autonomous robots, Cloud computing, Additive manufacturing, Augmented reality, Simulation, Horizontal and vertical system integration, The industrial Internet of Things, Cybersecurity)
- to build a database gathering data on the adoption of new digital industrial technologies at the company level.
- To provide quantitative and qualitative evidence on the relationship between the companies’ adoption of the new industrial technologies, their internationalization, and their employment level and shifts in employment across occupational categories
- To draw implications for industrial policy (e.g. on incentives towards new digital industrial technologies, and towards internationalization), technology policy (towards the most appropriate digital architectures) and policies to boost adequate skill development in Europe.
OUTPUTS & IMPACTS
- § Van Tulder R., Verbeke A., Piscitello L. (eds.) “International Business in the Information and Digital Age”, Progress in International Business Research, Vol. 13, Emerald, 2018.
- Von Tulder R., Verbeke A., Piscitello L., Introduction: International Business in the Information and Digital Age: An overview of themes and challenges. In Von Tulder R., Verbeke A., Piscitello L. “International Business in the Information and Digital Age”, Progress in International Business Research, Vol. 13, Emerald, 2018, pp. 1-13.
- Buonafede F., Felice G., Lamperti F., Piscitello L., Additive manufacturing and global value chains: An empirical investigation at the country level. In Von Tulder R., Verbeke A., Piscitello L. “International Business in the Information and Digital Age”, Progress in International Business Research, Vol. 13, Emerald, 2018, Chapter 12, pp. 295-323.
- Massini S., Piscitello L., Ciarli T., Kenney M. (co-editors), Innovation and skills in the digital economy, Special issue Research Policy, forthcoming.