Multi-polar Worldview

Megatrends and How to Survive Them is the title of our book that is due to be published on November 1st by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

This is one of a series of blogs based on the work we have done for the book.  In it, the seventh Megatrend we explore is Multi-Polar Worldview.  We chose this trend because the centre of gravity of global power and influence, both political and economic, is shifting from the North and West to countries in the East and South (often referred to as the Global South).

We are seeing the end of the post 1945 global consensus, moving from a USA-led world to a multi-polar worldview.  It is not yet clear which nations, if any, will emerge as the primary influencer(s) in this multi-polar world.  Of course, different worldviews will change not only the way that decisions are made, but potentially the range of decisions themselves.  And a breadth of different worldviews will contribute to creativity and innovation.

multi-polar worldview

Politics follows economics.  Follow the money to find the power.  This graph shows the amazing change in global share of GDP from 2004 (the aqua bars) to 2014 (the dark blue bars).  The shift is from Japan, North American and the EU28 (the bottom three) to the rest of the world, the other G20 and China as the top three.  Together with this shift in share of global GDP we are seeing increasing political strength of the world outside of Japan, North America and Europe, leading to a world no longer dominated by them, but now – and increasingly so – a multi-polar world.

China has replaced the USA as the driver of global change.  On purchasing-power-parity (PPP) its economy became the world’s largest in 2013; its GDP per person at PPP has risen tenfold since 1990, much faster than any other developing economy.  Two thirds of the world’s decline in poverty since 1990 has taken place.  At the same time, China is also responsible for half of the total increase in patent applications since 1990.

We think it is very likely that by 2032 the world order will be a dynamic and complex form of multi-polarity with no one country or region dominant.  It could be that three or four of the world’s five largest economies are in Asia: China, India and Japan with the potential that Indonesia occupies the fifth place.

Different nations have different visions of what a common world should look like.  Different nations have different views of what is ethical behaviour and what not.  The coming years are likely to force diverse visions of political order to be intermixed and exist together.  We only have to think about how differently different countries view ‘free and fair trade’ to get an idea of what this could look like.

While this may be difficult and even a source of trepidation for many people, we think there are great possibilities for organisations and businesses because greater diversity unleashes greater creativity and innovation.  It gives us the opportunity (if we recognise it) to create new relationships, businesses, markets and models of interaction across the world.  Not to mention to learn more about others and how they think differently

Some relevant articles:

https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2018/10/27/the-chinese-century-is-well-under-way

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/03/01/how-the-west-got-china-wrong

https://www.axios.com/chinas-takeover-as-the-world-top-exporter-180c8514-b38d-4388-b126-b40912720fca.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/14/globalisation-the-rise-and-fall-of-an-idea-that-swept-the-world

Some questions you might consider:

  • How does someone from a meritocracy deal with authoritarian, hierarchical rule?
  • How do you adapt your business model to work across different cultures efficiently and effectively?
  • How do you relate to the people you work with respectfully and effectively across diverse cultures?
  • Do your networks reflect the cultural diversity of the multi-polar world?

We live in interesting times!

By Patricia Lustig, LASA Insight and Gill Ringland, Director, Ethical Reading and SAMI Emeritus Fellow
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