Futuribles Journal n° 406

Économie, emploi - Entreprises, travail

The New Industrial Revolution: An Eldorado for a Triumphant Capitalism?

The last two decades have been marked by an acceleration in, and very rapid dissemination of, information and communication technologies (ICT) throughout the economy and society. For that reason, many writers, such as Jeremy Rifkin, take the view that we are on the eve of a new industrial revolution that might overthrow our economic model and bring the capitalist era to an end. Alain d’Iribarne doesn’t dispute the scale of these developments within the industrialized societies but, drawing on Fernand Braudel’s analysis of the dynamics of capitalism, he takes the view that they will not result in the death of that economic system. Given its time-honoured capacity for adaptation, capitalism will be able to bounce back by drawing on all the recent innovations to discover new sources of profit. In this article, he shows where the roots of this recovery lie (the relatively intangible strengths of capitalist organizations, the opportunities opened up by innovations in intermediation, the “sharing economy” and green growth, the organizational innovations made possible by the information society etc.). But he also stresses the major issues that face this new productive paradigm and the limits confronting it in terms of respect for human resources, security of personal data, risk management etc. A foresight exercise on the business of tomorrow which leads to an adaptation on the part of capitalism, not its death, but which also, reading between the lines, calls for us to revisit the place of the human element within the system.

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