Cette page regroupe l'ensemble des publications de Futuribles sur cette thématique (Vigie, revue, bibliographie, études, etc.)
The Macroscope by Joël de Rosnay was published in 1975 (in France). It is an unusual book, a mixture of theory, methodology, pedagogy and long-term vision, serious-minded and straightforward, making available to the general reader an approach based on complex thinking. It is neither an essay nor a political treatise. Although it discusses the future, it is not really a work of futurology, because explicit dates are not attached to the scenarios and mostly it is based on extrapolation from studies conducted in the United States.
The Macroscope makes use of a very powerful imaginary tool, the "macroscope", for observing the world and society and thus detecting clues about the future. To make it work, the author adopts the systemic approach, which was little known in France in the mid 1970s; this concentrates, in particular, on interdependencies, flows, and complementarities among individuals and with their environment.
Information is - along with energy and time - one of the three fundamental areas of knowledge that de Rosnay explores in order to illustrate the systemic approach. He makes the most of the fact that information exchange is not a zero-sum game; as a result, the relationships of complementarity and interdependence give rise to a network of concepts and people that is mutually reinforcing, not one that excludes. This is the basic driving force in the future society described in detail in the section of the book devoted to this topic.
What is presented is a new form of social organization, "society in real time". The author outlines the foreseeable technological developments involved and also stresses the need to think about what effects an interactive society might have. This new society in real time - of which he describes many aspects, such as being able to access information and to see the people with whom one is communicating at a distance, cable television and broadband, computer regulation of traffic and other urban flows, and computers that talk to each other - is also a remarkable foretaste of the Internet. Finally, Joël de Rosnay also discusses the substitution of telecommunications for transport, an issue that was highly topical at the time because of the first energy crisis of 1973, and he envisages already tailor-made goods and services on a mass scale. The society he describes seems quite familiar to us now, although it was not yet obvious in 1975.
As we announced last June, Futuribles is continuing the discussion on the future of research in France started by Jean-Jacques Salomon (no. 298). As well as the essay by François Ailleret, elsewhere in this issue, we are publishing this well-documented article by Pierre Papon, who surveys the current state of the French system of R&D and proposes a variety of ways to reform it.
He starts with some historical background, backed up with figures and international comparisons, describing the creation of the French R&D system and its vigour between the 1950s and the 1980s. He goes on to argue that - having failed to take account of the major changes in the international economic and scientific context- this system is doomed to fall behind if it is not overhauled. According to Pierre Papon, what is needed in particular is an awareness of the many different levels of decision-making (regional, national, European) and the creation of more relevant linkages, including cross-disciplinary ones.
Among the various reform options he discusses, the author stresses three points: the need to strengthen the ability of research to respond rapidly to scientific advances; to make it easier for the various bodies involved in research (universities, businesses, research centres) to co-operate with each other and foster the sharing of knowledge; and to devolve responsibilities for research policy more efficiently among the various geographical tiers of decision-making. Nevertheless, he concludes that we are no longer living in 1956, when a meeting in Caen marked the beginning of an ambitious French national policy in this field: the reforms outlined here can be implemented only very gradually, and they need first of all to be started...
At the end of 2003 and during 2004 there has been widespread and strongly expressed concern on the part of researchers in France, emphasizing the serious risks of falling behind other countries if the whole system of research is not overhauled. Some months before matters came to a head, the French government asked the Economic and Social Council (Conseil économique et social) to produce a report on French public research and the role of business. The report was published in December 2003. François Ailleret, former head of EDF (Électricité de France) and the "rapporteur" for this evaluation, summarizes its main conclusions.
He stresses above all the relative inefficiency of French public research and the country's low level of privately funded research; he warns that, compared with other countries, research employment is poorly managed and he highlights the potential risks attached to a shortage of research workers or of projects that are not geared to future needs. More generally, he emphasizes the inadequate value placed on research, which is linked above all to the lack of collaboration between universities and firms.
François Ailleret goes on to summarize the Council's main recommendations as to ways of improving this situation. Besides a serious future-oriented assessment of the aims and means of research in France, it recommends a complete overhaul of the key institutions in the system, stepping up public funding for research combined with the creation of private foundations and the encouragement of greater collaboration between universities and businesses; but also greater flexibility in managing human resources, incentives to more job mobility both within individual careers and within Europe, support for innovative business start-ups, etc. Only by doing so will France have any hope of maintaining its international position in the years ahead.
Pierre Gonod has read for Futuribles Edward Cornish's most recent book, Futuring (Bethesda: World Future Society, 2004, 313 pp.), which brings up to date his analysis of the discipline of futures studies. According to Pierre Gonod, it provides a detailed critical examination of the methods and techniques likely to be useful in anticipating the future and developing strategies for action in this area. Above all, it tells of the major event affecting contemporary society: the great social and technological transformation that marks the start of a period of "mega-changes". Cornish's book offers several keys (via monitoring, analysis of major trends, etc.) to help in understanding this new era and the futures that it portends; he also shows what a valuable tool for action the futures studies approach is, even if it is still far from being an exact science - and used too little, especially in France, adds Pierre Gonod.
European countries have gradually stopped manufacturing less sophisticated goods (clothing, shoes, etc.), which are now produced instead in developing countries, especially in Asia. The latter have shot ahead: total manufacturing output in the Euro zone grew by 13% between 1991 and 2003, whereas it grew by between 50% and 450% in the developing economies of Asia and Central Europe. The countries of Western Europe are therefore seriously threatened by this growth - how are they reacting?
Patrick Artus examines four cases here: Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Spain. The first two specialize mainly in the manufacture of machinery, the other two in nothing in particular. After analysing the trade balance of each country and the structure of employment by sector, Artus argues that Germany has maintained a high level of productivity growth, by contrast with France and Spain, where productivity has declined, unlike the United Kingdom.
This reveals two contrasting approaches, Patrick Artus concludes: one favouring short-term growth (Spain) as against one where the specialization strategy allows improvements in productivity that lead to economic growth over the longer term (Germany, UK).
In 2002, per capita GDP (gross domestic product) in France and the European Union was roughly 25% below that of the United States. Per capita GDP is related to several factors: hourly productivity rates, average working hours and the employment rates. In France, hourly productivity rates are very high, but working hours and the employment rates are low.
This explanation does not hold when the facts are examined, argues Cette, since productivity in general appears to fall as working time increases, hence less is produced in the 36th hour than in the 35th, and this is even more true concerning the employment rates, especially those of young people and workers aged over 50 which are particularly low in Europe, especially in France. Gilbert Cette points up this argument with the help of a comparison between the "observed" and the "structural" hourly productivity rates, with the latter distinctly higher in the United States than in Europe and Japan.
He shows that, ultimately, the improvement in productivity in the United States and the decline in Europe is largely due to the growth and, above all, the spread of information and communications technologies. However, for this to have the greatest multiplier effect, there must be not only an appropriate level of investment but also greater flexibility in the markets for goods and labour.
This article implicitly raises an important question about the balance to be struck between productivity and numbers in work, which is a real issue for society to decide.
Although the standard of living of Europeans gradually caught up with that of the Americans in the three decades after World War II, it would appear that the trend has dipped since the 1980s. Economic growth in Europe has stagnated, whereas growth has continued in the United States, despite events such as the bursting of the high-tech bubble, and September 11th. Is the decline of Europe compared with the United States unavoidable? What are the reasons for it?
Alain Villemeur describes the different paths taken by the two major Western blocs. He disentangles the reasons normally given to explain the poor results achieved in Europe (inflation, high interest rates, less flexible markets, industrial decline...) and challenges their validity in the light of the remarkable counter-example provided by the Netherlands.
In his view, the key to economic recovery in Europe lies in the investment countries are prepared to make in innovation and knowledge, and the way that innovations are achieved and implemented. What matters most now is to give priority to innovations in products (which means investing in research aimed at developing new products and services) rather than in processes (i.e. attempting to improve or copy innovations in existing products). It is a European country, Sweden, that provides the model for this approach.
For Alain Villemeur, the only means of reversing the economic decline of Europe over the last 20 years lies in combining strong support for research and development and innovation (on the Swedish model) with close control of wage costs (as in the Netherlands), and ensuring that this strategy applies also to the new members of the European Union.
Michel Godet comments on two recent reports by the Council for Economic Analysis on productivity and employment, and on the gap between France, the rest of Europe and the United States in this regard. This leads him to offer a different explanation of the poor performance of France, which he thinks is due to the small numbers in work, the demographic decline and the excessive emphasis only on those jobs that are judged, rightly or wrongly, to be highly productive.
He stresses first the high demand for personal services, the large numbers of potential jobs in this area, and hence the need to reassess the worth of professions relating to it. He then goes on to offer a critical discussion of the analyses of productivity, emphasizing in essence that, although the hourly productivity rate in France is high, the economic results are in general poor, and this is because there are not enough people in work.
Lastly, he outlines various ways of reviving growth and employment, for instance by encouraging part-time working and replacing welfare payments that are made without any requirement to work with arrangements which would encourage more French people to stay in their jobs or return to employment.
Take-off in France (1973) (Futures of Yesteryear)
In the early 1970s the Hudson Institute, which was created by the famous American futurologist Herman Kahn, carried out for the French government a study of "the wealth of France and the future of Europe", which caused a stir when the results were published in 1973 under the title L'Envol de la France dans les années 1980 [Take-off in France in the 1980s], co-authored by Edmund Stillman, James Bellini, William Pfaff, Laurence Schloesing and Jonathan Story. We have selected from Herman Kahn's preface and from the report itself several extracts that seem interesting to read thirty years on.
Pierre Bonnaure pursues an investigation published in Futuribles of the role played by information and communications technologies in economic growth. He shares here his view of the impact of regulation in this sector and stresses, in particular, the importance in economic warfare of how norms are defined; he argues that, through lack of political judgement, the French - and sometimes the Europeans - have often made bad decisions about regulations which have then handicapped them vis-à-vis their main competitors (the United States and Japan).
Jean-Jacques Salomon energetically castigates the contempt for scientific research in France; he criticizes the lack of resources and the dangers that this will incur in the medium and long term. But he goes further and proposes a proper plan to give a new impetus to research, development and innovation, emphasizing that it is not enough to allocate more money - the whole structure of research needs fundamental reform, as indeed does the French model of education.
Those in government care little for research, he argues, even though it has become ever more important in planning for the future.
First, research needs a genuine injection of money, and Jean-Jacques Salomon proposes ways in which the necessary funding could be achieved. But it is also essential to tackle the institutional and structural problems that beset a system that is in large part badly designed for today's needs.
The author distinguishes two complementary types of research (i.e. basic and applied), and shows that it is essential to overhaul the organization and the manner of funding and managing research. He argues forcefully in favour of a "national science foundation" and, incidentally, for a closer integration of research and the universities.
In this vein, he would like to see a thorough transformation of the French education system, with a clearer separation of vocational training - which needs to be upgraded - from higher education and research, which should be encouraged... Scattered through his text are recommendations that are particularly welcome in this long troubled period for the French system of research and innovation, and he starts a debate that will be continued in future issues of Futuribles.
The big worry used to be the relocation of jobs abroad. Now the talk is rather of "deindustrialization". The precise term matters little. The fact is that, throughout the West and especially in France, there are fears that China will become the world's factory and India will be its main provider of high-tech services, not to mention the role of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and, more generally, the rapidly developing nations increasingly competing with the old industrialized countries.
Michel Drancourt has been an astute commentator on the business scene for almost 50 years, he was formerly responsible for industrial redeployment in Lorraine (a region in eastern France suffering from industrial decline), and he also set up GERIS (Groupement économique de reconversion industrielle et de services, an agency to promote job creation in manufacturing and services) for the firm of Thomson. Here he reacts to a recent report by DATAR, La France, puissance industrielle [France as an Industrial Power] (Paris: La documentation Française, 2004), and argues that, as well as the growing competition faced by the countries of the Old World, firms are having to contend with other major pressures: first, the race to cut prices, partly in response to pressures from big retailers, which means that productivity is considered more important than job creation; secondly, technical change (in the broadest sense) and the more general need to be innovative, with regard to products, services and processes, which alone can create new markets.
With the help of many examples, the author describes the changes under way in modern economies and stresses that, in order to create wealth and jobs, it is essential to take advantage of expanding markets (whence the need to be part of them) and to develop new products and services.
As part of the revision of the overall plan for the Île-de-France, a study of the "deindustrialization" of the Paris region was carried out by a team of consultants for the regional directorate of the Ministry of Infrastructure. This article highlights the main findings.
The authors first outline the changes observed in France and in the Paris region over the last 30 years. This overview reveals, basically, that manufacturing employment has fallen sharply and, in spite of major improvements in productivity, the share of the national value added contributed by firms in the Île-de-France has fallen. By contrast, it appears that commercial services have expanded and have largely offset the decline in the manufacturing sector in the region.
Having given details of this finding, the authors suggest two possible scenarios based on a survey they conducted of 40 decision-makers.
The first scenario relates to firms which intend to "act so as to optimize costs and rationalize their activities", while the second relates to those that focus rather on developing certain specialties. The authors argue that, in any case, the image of Paris and its region has a decisive impact on the way the area develops and on where firms choose to locate. They go on to stress that these two scenarios are not mutually exclusive but rather correspond to different strategic approaches open to different sectors and specializations. They also discuss the impact of these strategies on where firms choose to locate within the Île-de-France and how these choices can contribute to spatial polarization.
Since the European Council in Lisbon in March 2000, the European Union gave itself the target of becoming "the most dynamic and competitive knowledge-based economy in the world" by the year 2010. A target which, according to the official line, would involve bringing the European research effort to 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP) by this time. Why this figure of 3% of the GDP? Part of the response lies in an extract from the 1964 work from the Plan, Considerations for 1985 (Paris: La documentation Française), which is reproduced in this issue. From 1964, the strategists for the French Plan estimated that in two decades' time, 3% of the gross domestic product should be devoted to research, in order to put France in a favourable position among international competitors and to make it a genuine rival for the United States -which was already showing this investment rate in the research carried out in 1964! They also insisted on the necessity of increasing research performance in France, notably with the help of an appropriate recruitment policy and the creation of "suitable reception facilities" which would incidentally provide researchers with the means to work efficiently.
Après avoir quitté la direction de la CFDT et le monde syndical, Nicole Notat a créé en août 2002 l’agence d’audit « Vigeo », dont l’objectif est d’être une société d’évaluation des performances sociales et environnementales des entreprises, à l’échelle européenne. Après qu’Hugues de Jouvenel ait rappelé que l’idée de responsabilité sociétale des entreprises était, à l’égal du développement durable ou de la gouvernance, en plein essor, ce qui pousse tout un chacun ...
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The question keeps returning of whether other development models exist besides the one followed by the richest Western nations - does modernization inevitably mean abandoning local culture and adopting Western values? In other words, can a different balance between tradition and modernity be achieved involving varying forms of compromise related to local cultural requirements?
This question is frequently raised with regard to general development strategies; it is also raised, with growing urgency, in firms, where there is too often a tendency to think that overall performance depends on adopting "good practices" in management that are universally applicable, regardless of local circumstances.
Philippe d'Iribarne takes the opposite view: while acknowledging that universally applicable good management practices exist, he shows how they can be implemented in different ways from country to country so as to meet local needs.
Far from just sermonizing, he bases his argument on a survey carried out in four firms: a Mexican food processing company, a Moroccan firm making electronic components, a petrochemical firm in Argentina and a state-owned electricity supply company in Cameroon.
In each case he shows how the firms were able to devise their own ways of reconciling global and local requirements and balancing economic and social concerns. The author draws from these examples some lessons that are especially useful today as globalisation is leading multinationals to set up in business in countries with very different cultures.
Les Wild Cards ou ruptures possibles sont des incidents dont la probabilité d'occurrence est faible, mais dont l'impact serait important et des conséquences stratégiques pour une organisation ou une société incontournables : les événements du 11 septembre 2001 en sont l'archétype. Les effets d'une Wild Card ne sont pas forcément brutaux, ils peuvent aussi être progressifs (le changement climatique). Les Wild Cards ne sont pas toujours imprévisibles, on peut mettre en place un système pour les identifier ...
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De nombreux travaux de prospective en matière de nouveaux produits ont échoué en sous-estimant les difficultés de leur diffusion, ainsi que celles de création de nouveaux usages. Ces travaux ont très peu souvent fait l'objet d'analyses rétrospectives qui auraient permis de mieux comprendre les erreurs de méthode ou d'appréciation, et de repérer en fonction de quels critères certains paramètres ont été jugés importants et d'autres laissés de côté. À travers une recherche exploratoire s'appuyant sur ...
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Dans cette étude, produite par le Technology Futures Analysis Methods Working Group, les auteurs dressent un portrait des nombreuses méthodes de prospective technologique existantes (cartographie, foresight, etc.) et traitent des changements technologiques qui peuvent influer sur ces méthodes d'exploration des technologies émergentes. Un tableau présente plusieurs de ces méthodes selon la famille à laquelle elles appartiennent et selon leur aspect normatif ou exploratoire. Les auteurs soutiennent que le processus est essentiel dans la conduite de tels exercices à l ...
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La faculté de sciences politiques de la UNAM (universidad nacional autónoma de México) a mis en place en 2003 un séminaire d'études prospectives. Ce séminaire, qui a intégré le noeud sudaméricain (subnodo) du Millennium Project, a mis en ligne en avril 2004 le premier numéro de sa revue électronique trimestrielle. Une rubrique " études de cas " explore l'avenir des États-Unis, avec quatre scénarios. Plusieurs textes éclairent la situation actuelle de ce pays, et des données factuelles (démographie, ressources énergétiques ...
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La question centrale de ce nouveau thème de recherche de Philippe d’Iribarne pourrait se résumer ainsi : comment concilier tradition et modernité en entreprise ? En d’autres termes, y a-t-il une autre voie de développement que celle qui consiste à s’inspirer du modèle occidental ? Le livre qu’il vient présenter, Le Tiers-Monde qui réussit. Nouveaux modèles, s’appuie sur des enquêtes de terrain dans des entreprises situées au Sud, et cherche à savoir comment fonctionnent les entreprises dans des ...
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For many people, the name of Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927) merely conjures up his comic masterpiece, Three Men in a Boat (1889). In summing up the writer's career, P. van Tieghem states quite rightly in the Dictionnaire des littératures that "he showed a great gift for describing the amusing side of life". But, just as before 1914 another English comic writer, P.G. Wodehouse, was parodying German spy stories with which the British enjoyed frightening themselves, Jerome had the unusual idea of parodying the (not very) amusing aspects of the utopian novels of his own time, and at the same time he managed to anticipate with disturbing foresight the underlying theme of a literary genre that did not then exist: the dystopia or negative utopia.
According to the Encyclopédie de l'utopie et de la science-fiction by Pierre Versins, this strange parody that Professor Beauchamp brings to our attention was translated into French in 1934 in a Belgian literary review (under the title "The New Utopia, or the World in the Year 3000"), then in 1938 was published in a little book entitled Ah! le beau rêve... (Oh What a Beautiful Dream!) but it has not been possible to trace them.
In the United States and in Europe, increasing numbers of business executives are on trial, accused of fraud or, more precisely, of having artificially inflated the value of their stocks and having thereby betrayed the trust of their partners.
Drawing from a study carried out by Futuribles, André-Yves Portnoff points out that one of the principal responsibilities of senior executives should be to maintain a balance between the interests of shareholders and those of the other groups concerned: customers, workforce, suppliers, etc. He stresses how much capitalism is likely to suffer as a result of these practices, which are motivated solely by the lure of short-term financial gain, and of a lack of a collective moral stance which would sustain values that are far more important for business performance in the medium and long term.
Cet article résume les différents rapports qui ont été réalisés, dans le cadre du programme Sector Futures de l'EMCC (European Monitoring Centre on Change), sur l'avenir du secteur européen des technologies de l'information et de la communication (TIC). Ces rapports reposent sur l'exploitation d'un grand nombre de documents (exercices de prospective à l'échelle mondiale ou nationale, travaux universitaires ou articles de presse). Les TIC représentent un secteur important de l'économie européenne. Le marché ...
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Ce chapitre est extrait du Rapport Vigie 2016 de Futuribles International, qui propose un panorama structuré des connaissances et des incertitudes des experts que l'association a mobilisés pour explorer les évolutions des 15 à 35 prochaines années sur 11 thématiques.