This brief is part of the Insights @ Center for Emerging Markets, a publication focused on cutting-edge ideas and advice for global leaders about emerging markets.

By David De Cremer (Northeastern University)

Despite prevailing negative sentiments about China in Western countries, David De Cremer, editor of a volume on the emergence of Asian global leadership, maintains an optimistic perspective on the economic prospects of Asia. He notes that the region's rapid growth over the past decade has greatly increased purchasing power across the continent, enabling an ever-growing consumer base with the means to acquire significant assets like vehicles and real estate. 

Educational advancements are notable, with a growing number of Asian universities climbing the ranks to join the global top 100. Furthermore, there is a technological renaissance unfurling across Asia, evidenced by burgeoning technology startups, especially prevalent in areas like automation and artificial intelligence (AI). This surge is not just an economic boon, but a marker of Asia's return to its historical dominance, a position it held until the industrial revolution, and one it is now regaining. 

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared this the “Asian Century” as the region solidifies its role as “the main growth engine of the world.” Some locales, particularly Taiwan, rival technological hubs like Silicon Valley, with significant contributions to the global microprocessor market. Furthermore, the region's education systems are producing the next generation of global corporate leaders, evident in the CEOs of Microsoft and Google, both of whom came from humble beginnings in India and are now steering advancements in AI and automation. 

As Asia increasingly influences the global economic and technological landscape, there is a poignant shift in corporate and cultural dynamics. The rise of Asian-born leaders within multinational corporations is catalyzing a cultural shift in leadership styles. The integration of Asian business practices is becoming more pronounced, moving towards more inclusive global leadership models that blend Western and Eastern approaches. This reflects Asia's growing influence on global strategies and leadership philosophies, which is essential as we transition into what De Cremer refers to as Globalization 2.0.  

Globalization 2.0 will be an era marked by substantial adjustments and reorientations. Despite its educational and economic achievements, the Asian Century also presents challenges, particularly in maintaining sustainable growth despite diminishing returns on traditional investments and worker demands for higher wages. The region also faces social challenges, such as employees demanding more than just a living wage, but also improvements in rights, freedoms, and quality of life. Here, the role of social innovation becomes crucial, targeting poverty alleviation and climate challenges within a framework that values social harmony and collective experiences. 

This comprehensive view not only underscores Asia's pivotal role in shaping the future global economic landscape but also highlights the nuanced challenges and transformations within, as it paves the way for a more balanced, innovative, and socially responsible era. 

Original Work 

Cremer, D. D. (Ed.) 2021. On the Emergence and Understanding of Asian Global Leadership. Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter.  


David De Cremer

If you are interested in learning more about this work, contact Dunton Family Dean David De Cremer.