Building an Alliance to Map Global Supply Networks

Science

Pichler, A., Diem, C., Brintrup, A., Lafond, F., Magerman, G., Buiren, G., Choi, T., Carvalho, V. M., Farmer, J. and Thurner, S.

Abstract

The global economy consists of more than 300 million firms, connected through an estimated 13 billion supply links [see supplementary materials (SM)], that produce most goods and services. It has long been unthinkable to analyze the world economy at the firm level, even less so its intricate network of supply chain linkages. This blind spot has left us ill-prepared to make fast and well-informed decisions, begetting, for example, prolonged shortages in raw materials and critical medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the availability of new data and recent methodological advances allow us to reconstruct a large share of the global firm-level supply network. Because mapping this network is likely to continue to improve, it is essential to initiate a discussion about responsible management and effective use of these data for the global public good. This requires new collaborative efforts between nations, their public institutions, international organizations, the private sector, and scientists.

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