The Division of Tasks, Offshoring and the Competitiveness of Europe’s Knowledge Economy

Research Team:

  • Prof. Dr. Irene Bertschek, ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research Mannheim, Research Group Information and Communication Technologies
  • Jan Hogrefe, ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research Mannheim, Research Group Growth and Business Cycles
  • Dr. Marianne Saam, ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research Mannheim, Research Group Information and Communication Technologies
  • Prof. Dr. Bas ter Weel, CPB Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis, Department of Labour Market and Welfare State and Maastricht University, Department of Economics
  • Prof. Dr. Lex Borghans, Maastricht University, Department of Economics and Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA)
  • Semih Akçomak, Universität Maastricht, Maastricht, NL

Project Description:

Recent developments in ICT and the growth of the emerging economies of China and India have generated a process of offshoring in which some activities move away from Europe. Sound policy responses require an understanding of what types of activities are contestable and a view on the strengths of the European knowledge economy.

Activities at the level of workers, firms and regions are the outcome of a global trading process resulting in bundles of integrated tasks. The possibility to offshore part of the work has changed these bundles of tasks and employment growth. Some tasks are easy to unbundle, while other tasks tend to cluster to benefit from lower communication costs.

This project aims to improve our understanding of the bundling and unbundling of tasks in Europe from the perspective of recent developments in ICT and globalisation. A theoretical framework is developed to understand the margins of bundling and unbundling, trends in the division of tasks are measured and interpreted for Germany, Britain and the Netherlands, and the further consequences of these developments for the organisation of work in firms are considered for Germany, the largest European economy.

Duration: April 2011 - September 2012

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