The economies of mankind have evolved dramatically over time. From hunter-gatherers, we settled down once
we discovered the art of farming, thereby giving rise to the first settlements and the first true economies.
Nevertheless, as settlements became towns we became reliant on trading, even more so as empires started to
flourish in the ancient times. This, in turn, resulted in a manufacturing base which grew rapidly with the start of
the industrial era in the 1800’s which further cemented the dominant position that the West had in the world.
However, as we know, it did not stop there and soon it became apparent that in order to manage such complex
systems, information and knowledge was required. The age of the knowledge worker was upon us and it is estimated by the IDC that the growth rate of knowledge workers worldwide doubled compared to that of other occupations between 1999 and 2007. This has underpinned the continuing economic growth of the West, but also necessitated structural changes in its economies as knowledge work differs not only from manual work in that it delivers information rather than goods, but it also requires higher degrees of flexibility and autonomy and
is reliant on innovation driven by collaboration. This, in turn, necessitates different systems, working practices, technology and organisational models.
Whilst the West has been building up its knowledge industry, it did so at the expense of its manufacturing
industry as its citizens became wealthier and rising labour costs made it economically unviable to compete with
developing countries who were not burdened with such welfare and legacy costs. The result was a notable shift
in manufacturing from the developed countries towards the developing countries, but as the latter ones are
building up their product base too, many of them are now also undergoing a rapid transition into knowledge