We live in a world of increasing specialisation and division of labour. In the corporate world, firms are globally outsourcing non-core activities, and specialising in core competences. This repositioning allows firms to increase productivity and generate appropriate economic rents.
The danger is that firms lose perspective on the determinants of systemic efficiency in their value chains, and on the determinants of dynamic competitive advantage that may include externalities not seen by individual firms.
An analogous process can be observed in the research community. We develop increasingly sophisticated and rigorous disciplinary and regional specialties, but in the process lose a holistic perspective on the complex interactions which determine real-world events.