Ignacio de la Vega, Dean of EGADE Business School, argues its time for Mexicans to find a new path to prosperity under the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
After the election hangover, Mexico now faces a new and decisive political era that will determine the course of the country over the next decade. During the last six-year presidential term, Mexico deteriorated significantly in competitiveness –the leading thermometer for economic growth and future well-being— compared with other countries in the world (dropping 19 places in the IMD Global Competitiveness ranking to 51st), while in the WIPO Global Innovation Index, despite climbing three positions, it reached a mediocre 58th place. Regarding the Corruption Perception Index, Mexico fell again this year after having receded 28 positions in 2017. The grave decline in these key indicators threatens to become entrenched in the country if urgent measures are not taken.
With an economy suffering from structural issues and challenges, but with an indubitable potential, Mexico’s performance depends on its continuing participation in the global system and managing its internal complexity through incentives to modernize the country. The new leaders need to drive the urgent transition to an economy of knowledge based on innovation, entrepreneurship, competitiveness and the promotion of an open market.
As seen in the last two centuries in countries such as the United States, investment in education and knowledge is the best long-term policy that a country can implement, translating into an increase in workforce competencies and innovation, and, consequently, productivity. Each new generation of brilliant minds comprises the innovators of the future. The era of maquila and oil is in the past. Ideas, knowledge and new workforce competencies are the main instruments Mexico possesses to compete at the global level.
The human factor and education are becoming increasingly important, fitting into the context of the current Fourth Industrial Revolution. Automation and artificial intelligence will wipe out thousands of low-skilled jobs. Over the next few decades, robots will take over the repetitive, predictable tasks currently performed by thousands of workers, which humans will deal with higher cognitive tasks, such as creativity, innovation, critical thinking, planning, decision making in complex environments, empathy, emotional intelligence, work in multidisciplinary, remote and global teams, etc. In the race for the global competitiveness of talent, Mexicans must bet on sophisticating and updating their skills and capacities, and raising the flag of something that is so innately Mexican – creativity.
While the leaders endeavor to formulate policies to address this structural transformation, the imminent tsunami of cultural changes will have implications in every industrial sector. Innovations, such as big data, the Internet of Things, fintech, blockchain, robotics or genetic and genomic engineering are already blurring the boundaries of the physical, digital and biological, and redefining the very nature of humankind.
The formulas of old will not work in this paradigm shift. Creativity is urgently required in every sphere, innovation in education and encouraging the realization of ideas: omni-entrepreneurship must be promoted as a model for economic growth and job creation. We need better policies and more resources to inspire the thousands of Mexican entrepreneurs who are responding to these challenges by creating new and better solutions to our problems.
This mission will not be successful if it is not accompanied by the strengthening of institutions (also in serious decline) and an environment of healthy competitiveness, thus guaranteeing the independence of institutions to act with transparency and accountability, and a system of counterweights that will combat the scourges of corruption and impunity that do so much damage to Mexico.
As institutions and organizations, we must also transmit the vision of responsible leadership to create shared value and transform businesses and society toward a model of shared prosperity and of fighting inequality. Fruit of the new economic paradigms, collaboration will take root in every context, giving civil society, the public sector and the private sector the opportunity to make this desire for change and renewal a reality that inspires and changes, this time for good and for real, the lives of all Mexicans.