In­dus­trial ro­bot­ics and the global or­gan­i­sa­tion of pro­duc­tion

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - NEWS -

A new OECD work­ing pa­per finds that the use of in­dus­trial ro­bots in de­vel­oped economies ap­pears to be slow­ing off­shoring rates, although it is not yet prompt­ing firms to bring jobs back home.

Us­ing in­dus­try level data, the pa­per finds a neg­a­tive cor­re­la­tion be­tween growth in the use of in­dus­trial ro­bot­ics and the rate of off­shoring for highly de­vel­oped economies. The ef­fect is only very re­cent and is es­pe­cially pro­nounced in labour-in­ten­sive sec­tors. The phe­nom­e­non is not yet ap­par­ent in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries. This sug­gests that ro­bot­ics may help ad­vanced economies to re­gain com­pet­i­tive­ness and as a con­se­quence the rate of global value chain ex­pan­sion may be slower than in the past.

A par­al­lel analysis us­ing firm-level data finds some ev­i­dence of firms in de­vel­oped coun­tries mov­ing em­ploy­ees and fixed as­sets back home – the so- called back-shoring or reshoring phe­nom­e­non – but there is no ev­i­dence of this trend be­ing linked to ro­bot­ics. Other fac­tors such as ris­ing wages in Asia or con­sumer pres­sure to get new prod­ucts to mar­ket faster may be at play.

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