World Economic Forum Special Report

The Global Economy's Recovery Hinges on 'Connectivity'

Brian T. Moynihan | Bank of America
Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America
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The following is a guest commentary for

The world is knitted together in a fabric of connectivity that even 10 years ago was unimaginable. Every aspect of commerce is increasingly global, with currency markets, trading systems, job creation, and financial activity linked in ways that affect consumers and the businesses that employ them in virtually every country.

When the financial crisis hit, we learned that connectivity was not the same as collaboration.The sometimes disconnected decisions and transactions made by individuals, business leaders, investors, and policymakers created unintended and unforeseen consequences -- the impact of which are felt to this day.

As we move the economy and markets forward, one of the touchstones of our decisions must be recognizing that the power of connections is a force for good that fuels scientific breakthroughs, economic achievements, and social movements.

(Read more: Is Income Inequality the Biggest Global Risk?)

This was the main finding of a recent study by PSB, a communications firm that conducts research as part of Bank of America's ongoing work to better understand our customers, clients, and the regions where we serve them.

The study surveyed more than 2,000 global leaders from the private sector, government, non-profits, non-governmental organizations, and academia in more than a dozen countries.The purpose of the study was to get a sense of how decision makers view opportunities for growth and collaboration, and what can be done to address any barriers standing in the way.

Nine out of 10 of these global leaders believe that greater connectivity and collaboration is essential for the world's economy to continue to recover. The good news is that more than two-thirds are already working closely with actors from sectors other than their own to ensure the best access to diverse skills and talent, to achieve greater insight into less familiar markets and to ensure more efficient operations.

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Such global connectivity appears likely to increase, with more than 40 percent of those engaged expressing a greater desire for collaboration.

These leaders also seem to recognize that connectivity and collaboration can lead to results no single sector can efficiently achieve. In delivering health care in India, for instance, one leader sees the process moving away from individual expertise and toward "cross-boundary groups and teams which span disciplines, levels, functions, generations, and professions."

The results, according to this response, are "rapid innovation and adaptation to change" and a "collaborative, interdependent culture."

Many global leaders also voiced a desire to see governments play a leadership role in asserting the value of connectivity, while recognizing that business can do more to inspire collaboration.

(Read more: It's the US, Not Europe, Discussed at Davos)

Key to these outcomes, these leaders believe, is the development of more people who value and encourage collaboration. I meet often with CEOs from different industries and in many countries. It is obvious from what I hear that they believe better outcomes are achieved when policymakers and others outside the business world are engaged in the dialogue.

Diversity also plays a vital role in driving the global recovery – diversity of geography, background, ideas, and leadership. Nearly nine out of 10 of those questioned believe a more diverse generation of business leaders will drive greater collaboration. In particular, nearly 70 percent believe that increasing the representation of women in senior business and government leadership roles will have a significant impact on achieving greater connectivity.

This is an area we are focusing on carefully at Bank of America. In 2012, we launched the Global Ambassadors partnership with Vital Voices to mentor young professional women in developing parts of the world. We launched this program in Haiti and conducted other engagements in South Africa and India. In this program, Bank of America executives partner with emerging female leaders and share perspectives on leadership and professional development.

The survey sows seeds of hope about the fruits of greater global collaboration across sectors. Eighty percent of respondents expressed optimism about future economic growth, opportunity, and shared success by harnessing the power of global connections.

If the recent global economic crisis taught us anything, it is that the world can be a better place when we collaborate to address the challenges of our connected globe. Whether sitting in parliament or Congress, the corner office or a university classroom, we all can drive collaboration toward a lasting impact for good on the people, communities and countries we serve.

Brian T. Moynihan is CEO of Bank of America.