post thumbnail alt text

Tilman Altenburg

German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

Tilman Altenburg leads the research programme “Transformation of Economic and Social Systems” at German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). He received his doctorate in Economic Geography in 1991. Tilman has done empirical research on economic development in Latin America, Asia and Africa, with a focus on competitiveness, industrial and innovation policy, and value chains. His main theme is how developing countries can design economic policies that enable them to improve their position in the global economy in a way that is socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable. Currently, he is coordinating research projects on green industrial policy in developing countries and on structural change in Africa.
More about Tilman Altenburg ›
publication
Sustainable Global Supply Chains Report 2022

Global supply chains affect the economy, the environment and social welfare in many ways. Worldwide, economies are experiencing global supply shortages today, affecting key industries such as automotive and consumer electronics as well as vaccine and medical supplies industries. These preoccupy policymakers, who are debating independent national production capacities and restrictions on international trade, but also large companies, which consider reshoring production and abandoning just-in-time procurement. At the same time, the greening of the global economy requires a restructuring of global production to massively decrease its environmental footprint. This creates new supply chain challenges – how to move towards circular economies and how to reorient energy-intensive industries towards renewables and green hydrogen, for example. And let‘s not forget: Consumers are increasingly demanding higher social and environmental standards. Transparency requirements and binding due diligence obligations will in particular affect countries that export raw materials and labour-intensive goods produced under problematic environmental and social conditions. All of this calls for policies that shape global supply chains in accordance with globally agreed social and environmental objectives. Policies along these lines will have to balance the legitimate interests of different countries and they may easily fail to achieve their objectives unless they are firmly grounded in a thorough understanding of the respective structures in supply chains, including the power relations between the actors. Further, the economic, social and environmental effects of alternative policy options need to be well understood. Science can make an important contribution here, especially if it maintains a constant dialogue with politics and society. This is why the international “Research Network Sustainable Global Supply Chains” was initiated by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). It currently comprises about 100 internationally leading scientists from all over the world and is jointly coordinated by our four institutes. Its tasks are: To conduct and stimulate research that contributes to making supply chains more sustainable; and to collect and synthesize the best international research on this topic and make it accessible to policy makers and other societal actors. In addition to its own research, the network organises academic conferences and discussions with policymakers, organises a blog and produces podcasts. With this report – the first in a new annual series – we present new research highlights, provide a forum to debate controversial supply chain topics and identify policy-relevant research gaps for the network‘s future work. The report is, at the same time, an invitation to participate in the discussions on how investment, production and trade will be reorganized in a global economy that has to respond to geopolitical challenges.

Read more ›
video
Dr. Tilman Altenburg speaks about the launching of the "Sustainable Global Supply Chains Report 2022"
Read more ›
blog
Green hydrogen: Opportunities for industrial development through forward linkages from renewables
Read more ›
blog
Automation versus relocation in clothing global value chains: Will investments shift from China to Africa at a big scale?
Read more ›
video
Launch Event: How Supply Chain Research Can Help Solving Societal Challenges
Read more ›
video
New Podcast “Shaping sustainable supply chains"
Read more ›
publication
Latecomer development in a “greening” world: Introduction to the Special Issue
Read more ›
publication
Exporting out of China or out of Africa? Automation versus relocation in the global clothing industry

This Discussion Paper examines the opportunities that the rising industrial wages in China will bring for Africa. China has been the industrial workbench of the global economy for decades. However, its competitive advantages are waning, particularly for labour-intensive assembly activities in the clothing, shoe, electronics and toy industries. The Chinese government estimates that up to 81 million low-cost industrial jobs are at risk of relocation to other countries - unless China can keep the companies in the country through automation. Against this background, three complementary studies were carried out. The first examines where the automation technology for clothing and footwear production stands today; the second, how clothing companies in China deal with the cost pressure: to what extent they automate, relocate within China or abroad and how great is the interest in Africa as a production location. The third part is devoted to Africa's competitiveness in clothing assemly, with empirical findings from Ethiopia and Madagascar. The Discussion Paper shows that the manufacture of clothing can already be robotized today, but that for sewing, robotization will probably remain more expensive than manual labor in the next 15-20 years. China's companies are investing heavily in the automation of all other production processes and at the same time shifting production to neighbouring Asian countries. In Africa, only Ethiopia is currently competitive in the manufacture of clothing, and here too there are significant institutional difficulties in absorbing large amounts of direct investment.

Read more ›
publication
Soziale und ökologische Herausforderungen der globalen Textilwirtschaft: Lösungsbeiträge der deutschen Entwicklungszusammenarbeit

Bekleidung für den rasch wachsenden Weltmarkt wird fast ausschließlich in Entwicklungs- und Schwellenländern gefertigt. Die Produktionsbedingungen in diesen Ländern gehen mit erheblichen sozialen und ökologischen Problemen einher. Diese in den Griff zu bekommen, ist eines der wesentlichen Ziele der deutschen Entwicklungszusammenarbeit. Dabei werden Maßnahmen in den Produktionsländern verknüpft mit Anstrengungen, unternehmerische Verantwortung entlang der gesamten Textil-Lieferkette einzufordern und hohe und transparente Standards durch den "Grünen Knopf" zu zertifizieren. Die vorliegende Studie identifiziert die wichtigsten sozialen und ökologischen Herausforderungen in der Textil-Lieferkette. Sie betont drei Hauptproblemfelder: Arbeitsbedingungen in der Konfektion; Umweltprobleme in den vorgeschalteten Nassprozessen; und soziale und ökologischen Probleme in der Baumwollerzeugung. Des Weiteren werden (neue) Handlungsfelder für Deutschlands internationale Zusammenarbeit in vier Bereichen beschrieben: (1) den Konsum nachhaltiger gestalten; (2) unternehmerische Sorgfaltspflicht einfordern; (3) die lokale Wertschöpfung in der Produktion steigern; und (4) Institutionen vor Ort stärken

Read more ›
publication
Green industrial policy: Accelerating structural change towards wealthy green economies

The Chapter discusses the conceptual foundations of green industrial policy. Altenburg and Rodrik explain why looking through the lens of industrial policy provides important insights for a green transformation. They summarize lessons learned from decades of experimentation with, and research on, industrial policy and bring out key principles of smart policymaking that maximize the government’s ability to overcome market failures while keeping the inherent risks of misallocation and political capture to a minimum. Subsequently, the authors identify six extra challenges of green transformations and explain the ways green industrial policy must go beyond the common practice of industrial policy in a business-as-usual setting.

Read more ›

Stay tuned on the latest news from our research network.