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Where is the world going: Global Trends in the 21st Century and their impact on Business (CEM80400)

General information






S semester

ECTS Credits:


Teaching Staff:

Group Teacher Department Language
Ángel Pascual Ramsay Dirección General y Estrategia ENG



Previous Knowledge


Workload distribution

Course work requirements:
- Compulsory reading of assigned materials before each class
- Submission of commentary on assigned readings before each class
- Active preparation and contribution to cases to be discussed in class
- Group presentations on assigned topics
- Final indiviudal assignment
- Active, graded, participation in class


Course Objective:
To familiarize future business executives with the trends shaping the world in which they will have to live and work and to equip them to incorporate this awareness into their business decisions.

Course Description:
The world in which business graduates like yourselves will be entering will be an extremely competitive one. You will need to be able to differentiate yourselves against your peers to give you that extra edge that employers will value. Your ?competitive advantage' is unlikely to come from your knowledge of traditional business study tools and facts that everyone else is studying. It is more likely to come from an above the average ability to think critically and be forward looking. This course will help you in that process. Into the future, tour future business success will also depend to a significant extent on your ability to understand the world around you, the risks and opportunities it presents and your skill in incorporating these factors into your business decisions. In an age of economic, geopolitical, social, technological and demographic change, it is no longer sufficient to analyze in isolation the market forces affecting global business firms. Business leaders must learn to understand non-market elements and the forces that are shaping the challenging global business environment of the 21st century. To that effect, this course will explore these ?mega-trends' that are shaping our world. These trends might be economic, geopolitical, social, technological, or related to resources and sustainability, but they all have one thing in common: they are conforming a very different world to the one we know today and it is this world that future business executives will have to operate within. By the end of this course you will understand the global trends that are shaping our world and have commenced the process of learning how to incorporate that awareness into their your thinking and decisions, in business as well as in life.




1. Introduction: global trends and why they matter to business (I)
In this first session we will, after taking care of the logistics, go through an overview of how the world is changing and why this is relevant to business. Key `mega trends' are creating a very different world to the one we have known up until now. These trends are increasingly shaping the business environment within which firms operate and the ability to incorporate them into your business analysis will be, in the years to come, the key difference between mere tactics and real strategy.

- Oxford Martin School. `Now for the long term: the Report of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations¿. (pp 12-24)
- Bach, D and Allen, B. 2010. ¿What Every CEO Needs to Know About Nonmarket Strategy¿. MIT Sloan Management Review. Spring 2010.
Optional Reading:
- McKinsey Quarterly¿¿Management intuition for the next 50 years¿. Sept ` 14
- National Intelligence Council. 2011. ¿Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds¿ (Executive Summary, pages i-xiv)

2. Global trends and why they matter to business (II): global and political risks
The trends that we will be studying in the course will generate great new opportunities for business but also significant risks. You will have many other courses that highlight the opportunities available; you should also get an insight into some of the risks, and that is what we will do in this session. Whether emanating from the role of national political actors (expropriation, capital controls,¿) or global phenomena (global financial crisis, cyber-risks, pandemics,¿) these risks can all have an existential impact on businesses.

- Bremmer, I., 2013. ¿Managing Risk in an Unstable World¿. Harvard Business Review. June 2005. pp. 1¿ 9.
- World Economic Forum, Global Risks Report 2016 (Executive Summary)

Optional Reading:
- Lamarre, Eric, and Martin Pergler. "Risk: Seeing around the Corners" McKinsey Quarterly 2009: 1-7 (to see how political risk fits within the larger risk dynamics of a business)
- HBS (1997). Note on Political Risk Analysis (good historical perspective)

Case for class discussion: Repsol


3. Geopolitics: a G-0 world
The geopolitical stability of the last part of the 20th century is gone. We are immersed in an era of moving geopolitical tectonic plaques, which is giving way to a completely different political and strategic context. This session will help you understand the key geopolitical trends defining the new world order of the 21st century.

- `A G-Zero World¿, by Ian Bremmer and Nouriel Roubini. Foreign Affairs, Mar/Apr2011, Vol. 90, Issue 2
- Luttwak, E., 1990. ¿From Geopolitics to Geo-Economics: Logic of Conflict, Grammar of Commerce¿. The National Interest, pp.1¿6

Optional Reading
- Eurasia Group Top Risks 2014
- Rachman, G. `Why investors are ignoring war, terror and turmoil¿. Financial Times, September 8, 2014.

Group Presentation: Ukraine
- Ukraine: On the Border of Europe and Eurasia

4. Global Economy: a new equilibrium
The shape of economic globalization is changing. China just overtook the US as the largest economy in the world. Factors like the rise of other emerging markets, state capitalism, the increasing role of sovereign wealth funds or the challenges of global economic governance are all contributing to a very different macroeconomic landscape for business.

- PriceWaterhouseCoopers (2013). ¿World in 2050. The BRICs and beyond: prospects, challenges and opportunities¿, London. (Executive Summary)
- Rodrik, D. `Death by Finance¿. Project Syndicate, February 2014.

Optional Reading:
- Rodrik, D. `Don¿t count on global governance¿.Project Syndicate, Nov 2010
- INSEAD (2014) `The Globalization of the Renminbi¿

Case: Two Key Decisions for China¿s Sovereign Wealth Fund

Group Presentation: Beyond the BRICS: Frontier Markets
- FTSE (2014). `Frontier Markets: Accessing the next frontier¿. FTSE Papers

5. Technology and innovation: the third (non) industrial revolution
Disruptive technologies are changing the way we live and do business. This era of transformation has barely begun. Advances in information technology, genetics, biotechnology, nanotechnology, robotization and computerization will create in the near future a very different world from today¿s. Technology is both cause and consequence of innovation and innovation will be the pillar of the new economic paradigm that will substitute the industrial age.

- Wolf, Martin. `A much-maligned engine of innovation¿. Financial Times, 4 August 2013
- US National Intelligence Council, 2008. `Disruptive Civil Technologies: Six Technologies with Potential Impacts on US Interests out to 2025¿. (Executive Summary, pp. i-v)
- World Economic Forum, `Global Risks Report 2014¿ (pp. 38-41)

Optional Reading:
- Financial Times. `German fears of China cyber spying reinforced by US charges¿, May 2014
- MckInsey Quarterly. `Artificial Intelligence meets the C-suite¿ September 2014

Group Presentation: Robotization and the risk of job-less growth
- Frey, C.B. and Osborne, M.A. (2013). ¿The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation?¿. University of Oxford, Oxford.

6. Demographic changes: urbanization, aging and the new middle class
Demography is one of the most powerful drivers of change. It is slow moving but its impact is profound and long lasting. Today we are living in the mist of a great demographic transformation. The world is getting older and more urban. Add to this other social changes like the increasing presence of women in the work force and the advent of a new global middle class in emerging nations and you have the ingredients of a great transformation for society and business through drivers such as changing consumption patterns, new growth markets and a very different composition of the work-force. In this session we will look at some of these trends and the effect they will have on business.

- Erkfurt, J, Peppes, A and Purdy, M. `Demography and Destiny: Embracing Population Aging to Create Value¿, Rotman Magazine, July 2013
- Lingdart, Z et al `Unlocking Growth in the Middle: How to Capture the Critical Middle Class in Emerging Markets¿. Rotman Magazine Spring 2013

Optional Readings:
- Gertz, G. & Kharas, H. (2010). The New Global Middle Class: A Cross-Over from West to East. Brookings Institution, Washington.

Group presentation: Demography and geopolitics
- Jackson, Richard, and Howe (2008). The Graying of the Great Powers: Demography and Geopolitics in the 21st Century. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic & International Studies.

Class exercise:
Simulation with Gapminder

7. Social and political shifts: a change of paradigm?
This session will look at some of the most salient global social and political trends into issues such as new models of economic management or inequality, how the effect they are having on the global economy and society.

- Stiglitz, J. ¿The Price of Inequality¿. Project Syndicate, 5/06/2012
- Rodrik, D. `The New Mercantilist Challenge¿. Project Syndicate, January 19 2013

Optional Reading:
- The Economist. `Does rising all boats lift the tide?¿ April 2014
- CIPD (2013). ¿Megatrends defining work in the 21st century¿, London

Group Presentation: The impact of rising inequality

- Krugman, P. `Why we are in a new gilded age. Review of Thomas Piketty¿s Capital in the Twenty First Century¿. New York Review of Books, May 8 2014

8. Resources and sustainability: energy, the race for resources and climate change
Each industrial revolution has been preceded and made possible by a transformation in energy resources. Today we are again in the mist of one, with new sources, from renewables to fracking, transforming the energy landscape. This is just one example of the race for resources that, as the world strives to maintain a growing population, will be one of the defining trends, and causes of conflict, of the 21st century. Both energy and resource consumption, are also at the heart of one of the greatest unanswered challenges of our time: climate change.

- BP (2013). ¿Energy Outlook 2035¿, London. (Global Energy Trends section, pp 7-23)
- Jakobson, L. (2010) China Prepares for an Ice-Free Arctic. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Case discussion: Shaping the future of solar power: Climate Change, Industrial Policy and Free Trade (Harvard Kennedy School, 2012)

Group Presentation: Fracking

- Aly Sergie, Mohammed. `Backgrounders. Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking). Council of Foreign Relations. October 2013
- Food & Water Watch. 2014. `The urgent case for a ban on fracking¿ (Executive Summary, Introduction and Conclusion)


9. Applying geostrategic thinking to business: forecasting and scenario building
In the first of the concluding sessions we will introduce two key tools (forecasting and scenario building) to put into practice what we have learnt over the preceding sessions and illustrate how global trends can be incorporated into the decision making process in business organizations.

- Saffo, Paul. "Six Rules for Effective Forecasting." Harvard Business Review. July-August (2007): 1-11.
- Wilburn, Kathlen & Wilburn, Ralph (2011). `Abbreviated Scenario Thinking¿

Optional Reading
- Kaplan, Robert. (2014) `On Forecasting¿. Stratfor Global Intelligence

Group Presentation: The new face of forecasting

- Harford, Tim. `How to see into the future¿. Financial Times, Sept. 2014
- Stanley, Aaron. 'With Wikistrat, crowdsourcing gets geopolitical'. Financial Times. September 2014.

Class simulation: The Zurich Risk Room

10. Where is the world going? Plausible scenarios
We will finish the course with a class discussion in which we will speculate about the most plausible worlds that present global trends might lead to and what each might mean to business. It will also form the basis of your final individual exercise.

- National Intelligence Council. 2011. ¿Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds¿ (Chapter 3, pp 110-136)
- Price Waterhouse Coopers. `Spain in the world 2033¿ (English Executive Summary, pp 7-11)

Group Presentation: Drivers of change


The methodology used is designed to encourage active student participation. It consists of a combination of lectures, class exercises, group presentations and cases. Most sessions will include a lecture, a presentation by a group based on a reading or set of readings on a particular topic and a case to be discussed or exercise to be undertaken together in class.

It is important for you to understand that this course assumes active individual participation. Passive listening will not be sufficient to get a good grade, in the same way that it will not be sufficient in the real business world you are training yourselves for. Quality rather than quantity of questions will be valued. In order to facilitate class participation the lecture PowerPoint slides will be posted in Moodle after the class, so your main task during the class should not be to take notes but to critically analyse what you are listening and respond to it.

There will be required readings for each session. These should be completed beforehand and you should be prepared to discuss them in class. A commentary on the reading will have to be submitted before each class. The readings will be manageable and interesting and you should therefore make an effort to read them. You will get much more out of the class if you do. Readings and cases will be available in the course Moodle. This guide provides some of them, although they might be changed if before the start of the course new more relevant readings become available, so you should only take them as an orientation

For the extremely enthusiastic I have provided a copious Background Bibliography. These readings are of course not compulsory but will serve those of you interested in deepening your knowledge of a specific topic or subject.

Group work instructions:
Groups will present the selected reading assigned to each topic. The expected output of the presentations is a critical assessment of the reading. The following questions may serve as a guideline. Presentations may use PowerPoint support, and each shall last 10 to 15 minutes approx. Students are highly encourage to prepare/read the selected readings individually and to use them as basis for discussion during the sessions. It is also highly recommended to use the readings' key concepts and main take-aways when preparing the exam and the final case report.

Assessment criteria

Course assessment is based on:
- Class participation and submitted commentaries (20%)
- Group work (30%)
- Individual final exercise (50%)


Below is a general background bibliography, for reference only and not compulsory. See Course Contents for required readings for each session:

- 2030 Water Resources Group (2013). "Charting Our Water Future. Economic frameworks to inform decision-making?, Washington.
- Acemoglu, D., Akcigitz, U. & Celik, M.A. (2013) "Young, Restless and Creative: Openness to Disruption and Creative Innovations?, mimeo.
- Artuç, E., Docquier F., Özden, C. & Parsons, C. (2013). "A Global Assessment of Human Capital Mobility. The Role of non-OECD Destinations?, International Migration Institute, Universidad de Oxford, Oxford.
- Asian Development Bank (2010). "The Rise of Asia's Middle Class?, in Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2010, Manila.
- Asian Development Bank (2013). "The Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2013?, Manila.
- BP (2013). "Energy Outlook 2035?, Londres.
- Bremmer, I, & Xinbo, W. (2014). "What's Next? Essays on Geopolitical that matters. Vol. 2?, World Economic Forum, Ginebra.
- Bremmer, I. (2012). "Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers in a G-Zero World?, Penguin Group, Nueva York.
- Bremmer, I. (2010). "The End of the Free Market: Who Wins the War Between States and Corporations?, Penguin Group, Nueva York.
- Brzezinski, Z. The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives New York, NY: Basic Books, 1998.
- Chandy, L., Ledlie, N. & Penciakova, V. (2013). "The Final Countdown: Prospects for Ending Extreme Poverty by 2030?, Brookings, Washington.
- Clapper, J.R. (2014). "Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community. Statement for the Record?, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Washington.
- CIPD (2013). "Megatrends?, London.
- Cohen, Saul B. Geopolitics: The Geography of International Relations. London: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2009.
- European Commission (2013). "European Innovation Scoreboard?, Brussels.
- European Commission (2012). "Global Europe 2050?, Directorate-General for Research, Brussels.
- European Commission (2011). "Open data. An engine for innovation, growth and transparent governance?, Brussels.
- European Commission (2012). "The 2012 Ageing Report: Economic and budgetary projections for the 27 EU Member States (2010-2060)?, Brussels.
- Commissaire général à la stratégie et à la prospective (2013). "Quelle France dans dix ans??, París
- CRED (2013). "People affected by conflict 2013. Humanitarian needs in numbers?, London.
- Development Initiatives (2013). "Investments to end poverty Real money, real choices, real lives?, Bristol.
- Dullien, S. & Torreblanca., J.I. (2013). "What is political union??, European Council on Foreign Relations, Londres.
- Eichengreen, B. & Gupta, P. (2014) "Tapering Talk: The Impact of Expectations of Reduced Federal Reserve Security Purchases on Emerging Markets", MPRA Paper 53040, University Library of Munich, Munich.
- Energy Information Administration (2013). "International Energy Outlook?, Washington, United States.
- Ericsson (2013). "Ericsson Mobility Report 2013?, Estocolomo.
- ESADEgeo, ICEX & KPMG (2013). "Sovereign Wealth Funds Report 2013?, Madrid.
- Fagnant, D.J. & Kockelman, K. (2014). "Preparing a nation for autonomous vehicles: opportunities, barriers and policy recommendations for capitalizing on self-driven vehicles?, TRB, Washington.
- FAO (2009). "How to Feed the World in 2050?, Roma.
- Fatas A. & Ilian M. (2013). "From recession to normalcy: Recoveries as a third phase of the business cycle?, VoxEU.
- International Monetary Fund (2012). "Changing patterns of global trade?, Washington.
- International Monetary Fund (2013). "World Economic Outlook, International Monetary Fund?, Washington.
- Fontagné, L. & Fouré, J. (2012). "Opening a Pandora's Box: Modelling World Trade Patterns at the 2035 Horizon?, CEPII WP.
- Frey, C.B. & Osborne, M.A. (2013). "The future of employment: how susceptible are jobs to computerisation??, University of Oxford, Oxford.
- Frieden, Jeffry A. "Global Capitalism: Its Fall and Rise in the Twentieth Century?. New York, NY: WW Norton & Company, 2006.
- Friedman, George. The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century. New York, NY: Doubleday, 2009.
- Gertz, G. & Kharas, H. (2010). "The New Global Middle Class: A Cross-Over from West to East?, Brookings Institution, Washington.
- Graedel,T.E., Harper,E.M., Nassar, N.T. & Reck, B.K. (2013) "On the materials basis of modern society?, PNAS.
- Guerrero, T. & Blanco, A. (2013). "Ten Trends Shaping the International Economy?, ESADEgeo, Madrid.
- Inglehart R. & Foa, R. "Religión y valores en la era globalizada?
- Inglehart R & Welzel, C. (2005). "Modernization, Cultural Change and Democracy: The Human Development Sequence?, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge/Nueva York.
- International Energy Agency (2013). "Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2013?, París.
- International Energy Agency (2013). "World Energy Outlook 2013?, París.
- Kennedy, Paul. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1988.
- Kowalski, P., Büge, M., Sztajerowska, M. & Egeland, M. (2013). "State-Owned Enterprises: Trade Effects and Policy Implications", OECD Trade Policy Papers 147, OECD Publishing, París.
- KPCB (2013). "2013 Internet Trends?, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Menlo Park.
- Lakner, C. & Milanovic, B. (2013) "Global Income Distribution From the Fall of the Berlin Wall to the Great Recession?, Banco Mundial, Development Research Group Poverty and Inequality Team, Washington.
- Maddison, A. (2007). "Contours of the World Economy, 1-2030 AD. Essays in Macro-Economic History?, Oxford University Press.
- Magnus, George. The Age of Aging: How Demographics are Changing the Global Economy and Our World. New York, John Wiley & Sons, 2008.
- Magnus, George. Uprising: Will Emerging Markets Shape or Shake the World Economy. New York, John Wiley & Sons, 2010.
- Mamolo, M. & Scherbov, S. (2009). "?Population Projections for Forty-Four European Countries: The Ongoing Population Ageing?, European Demographic Research Papers.
- ManpowerGroup (2013). "Talent Shortage Survey 2013. Research Results?, Milwaukee.
- Milanovic, B. (2012). "Global Income Inequality by the Numbers: in History and Now ?An Overview??, World Bank Poverty and Inequality Team, Development Research Group, Washington.
- Milanovic, B. (2012). "Globalization and inequality?, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham/ Northampton.
- Mitchell, B. (2007). "International Historical Statistics 1750-2005?, Palgrave Macmillan, Nueva York.
- Mouhoud, E.M., Oudinet, J. & Duwicquet, V. (2011). "International Migration by 2030. Impact of immigration policies scenarios on growth and employment?, Bruselas.
- National Intelligence Council (2012). "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds?, Washington.
- Newman, E., Thakur, R. & Tirman, J. (2006). "Multilateralism Under Challenge? Power, International Order, and Structural Change?, United University Press, Tokio.
- OCDE- International Futures Project (2009). "The Bioeconomy to 2030. Designing a Policy Agenda. Main Findings and Policy Conclusions?, París.
- OCDE (2012). "Medium and long-term scenarios for global growth and imbalances?, Economic Outlook, París.
- OCDE (2009). "Innovation and growth. Chasing a moving frontier. OECD and the World Bank?, París.
- OCDE (2010). "Measuring innovation. A new perspective?, París.
- Ortega, A. & Pascual-Ramsay, Á. (2012). "¿Qué nos ha pasado?: El fallo de un país?, Ensayo, Barcelona.
- Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations (2013). "Now for the Long Term?, University of Oxford, Oxford.
- Pew Research Center (2013). "Despite Challenges, Africans Are Optimistic about the Future?, Washington.
- Pew Research Center (2013). "Environmental Concerns on the Rise in China?, Washington.
- Pew Research Center (2013). "The Future of the Global Muslim Population?, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Washington.
- PricewaterhouseCoopers & SMI (2013). "Transportation & Logistics 2030. Volume 3: Emerging Markets - New hubs, new spokes, new industry leaders?, Dusseldorf.
- PricewaterhouseCoopers (2013). "World in 2050. The BRICs and beyond: prospects, challenges and opportunities?, Londres.
- Rodrik, D., Subramanian, A. & Trebbi, F. (2002). "Institutions rule: the primacy of institutions over geography and integration in economic development?, NBER Working Paper 9305, Cambridge.
- Rodrik, D. (2011). "The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy?. Norton & Company, Nueva York.
- Santiso, J. & Capapé, J. (2011). "Sovereign Funds Are Helping Strike A New World Economic Balance?, ESADEgeo, Madrid.
- Taleb, N. & Blyth, M. (2011), "The Black Swan of Cairo. How Suppressing Volatility Makes the World Less Predictable and More Dangerous?, Foreign Affairs, vol. 90, nº 3, Nueva York.
- Themnér, L. & Wallensteen, P. (2012). "Armed Conflicts, 1946-2012?, Journal of Peace Research, Oslo.
- United Nations (2013). "Millenium Development Goals 2013 Report'. New York.
- UNEP (2012). "21 Issues for the 21st Century: Result of the UNEP Foresight Process on Emerging Environmental Issues?, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi.
- UN Population Division (2013). "World Population Prospects: The 2012 Revision?, Nueva York.
- UNESCO (2012). "The United Nations World Water Development Report 4. Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk?, París.
- U.S. Energy Information Administration (2012). "International Energy Outlook 2012?
- World Bank (2012). "China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious, and Creative High-Income Society?, Washington .
- World Economic Forum (2013). "Climate Adaptation: Seizing the Challenge?, Ginebra.
- World Economic Forum (2013). "The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014?, Ginebra.
- WVS/EVS. "The European and World Values Surveys Four-wave Integrated Data File, 1981-2004 / World Values Survey Five-wave Aggregated Data File, 1981-2005?.

Timetable and sections

Group Teacher Department
Ángel Pascual Ramsay Dirección General y Estrategia


From 2016/11/10 to 2016/12/15:
Each Thursday from 13:15 to 19:15. (Except: 2016/12/8)