The ‘Lightness’ of Industry 4.0 Lead Firms: Implications for global value chains

05 March 2018


Lukas brun

Visiting Associate Professor in the Markets and Management Program at Duke University and a Senior Research Analyst at the Duke Global Value Chains (GVC) Center








Digitization, due in large part to the suite of technologies commonly referred to as “Industry 4.0” or the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, is changing the frontier of what tasks can be performed by machines and what must be completed by humans, challenging the extensiveness of production in geographic space and the density of interactions among buyers and suppliers. In this presentation, I argue that technological change is introducing new, highly capable digital technology multinational enterprises (“digital economy MNEs”) into the manufacturing and service sector. These firms are unique in that they value non-physical assets higher than physical assets, indicative of a competitive strategy valuing more asset-light forms of international production. “Lightness” among these firms has development implications for regions, especially if lightness among digital economy MNEs is a harbinger of increased lightness among all industries.



About the speaker


Lukas Brun is a Visiting Associate Professor in the Markets and Management Program at Duke University, where he teaches a course on organizations and global competitiveness, and a Senior Research Analyst at the Duke Global Value Chains (GVC) Center, where he conducts research addressing development issues for governments, foundations, and international development organizations. His teaching and research, broadly speaking, examine how global production and retail networks, organized by lead firms, structure the opportunities of individuals, firms, and regions to participate in them and capture value. Recent global value chain projects include analyzing the shipbuilding industry for governments in South Korea, the Philippines, and Canada; and the oil & gas and transportation & logistics industries for Kazakhstan. His research appears in peer-reviewed and industry trade journals. Lukas is a Ph.D. candidate at North Carolina State University’s School of Public and International Affairs, and holds master’s degrees with concentrations in economic development and international political economy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Lukas will speak about ongoing research conducted with Gary Gereffi (Duke) and James Zahn (UNCTAD) on the effect of Industry 4.0 technologies on global value chains.


Seminar programme


4.15pm    Arrival

4.30pm    Seminar begins

5.30pm    Q&A

6.00pm    Drinks and snacks


Location: Seminar Room 1, Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge, 17 Charles Babbage Road, Cambridge, CB3 0FS


Registraion detail:


This event is free to attend and no booking required.
For more information contact Jostein Hauge:



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