#EURegionsWeek

#EURegionsWeek UNIVERSITY: The regional socio-economic impact of the 4th industrial revolution

6 Likes
Sign in with EU Login to vote
Thu 10, October 2019
09:15 - 10:45
Please sign in with EU Login to vote.

The so-called 4th industrial revolution is expected to lead societies and economies to adapt and to undertake pervasive, if not disruptive, transformations. The present session aims at stimulating policy reflections on the territorial dimension of such processes by discussing:

  • territorial evidence on the advancement of technological transformations in European regions
  • the territorial mechanisms favouring the emergence and diffusion of the new technologies
  • the territorial impact on economic performance and the society of the present technological transformation.

The so-called 4th industrial revolution is expected to lead societies and economies to adapt and to undertake pervasive, if not disruptive, transformations. These transformations, however, raise imperative alarms about the substitution effect of the new technologies with respect to labour and the risks of the so-called technological unemployment because of "functions – and tasks within functions – at risk of automation" (OECD, 2018).

The pervasiveness of such effects, therefore, requires a deep understanding of the mechanisms enabling to take advantage of the opportunities opened by the new technologies (i.e. the maximisation of the economic benefits in terms of productivity and growth,) while minimising the social costs that may arise in terms of restructuring of the labour market, possible unemployment growth and widening social and spatial inequalities.

The present session aims at stimulating reflections on the territorial dimension of such processes, which has only recently received some attention (OECD, 2018), and will gather contributions presenting and discussing:

  • territorial evidence on the advancement of the penetration of technological transformations in European regions,
  • the territorial mechanisms favouring the emergence of the new technologies in specific places,
  • the territorial assets favouring the creation and diffusion of these technologies, and
  • the territorial impact on economic performance and the society of the present technological transformation.


These reflections will help framing the policy debate about the potential impact of the current technological revolution on jobs and productivity.

The session will be enriched by the interaction with the audience following a question and answer format.

Reference: OECD (2018) Job creation and local economic development: Preparing for the future of work, OECD Publishing, Paris

Uwe Blien, Head of Research Department, Institute for Employment Research in Nuremberg (IAB) and Otto-Friedrich-University Bamberg, Germany.
Roberta Capello, Full professor of Regional and Urban Economics, Politecnico di Milano, Italy.
Camilla Lenzi, Associate professor, Politecnico di Milano, Italy.
Slavo Radosevic, s.radosevic@clara.co.uk, University College London, United Kingdom.
10WS680
Workshop
A greener Europe
Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP), European Regional Science Association (ERSA), Regional Studies Association European Foundation
english (en)
Building SQUARE - Brussels Convention Centre, Room 201 A+201 B.
Address: Mont des Arts, 1000 Brussels

Session summary

The 4th Industrial Revolution has become a reality. Our everyday life experiences changes induced by new technological solutions, products and operations that interfere with our habits and traditional ways of behaviour. But this is only the tip of the iceberg of more profound structural changes that occur both in the market where the new 4.0 technologies are created, and in society in general, generated by the diffusion of such technologies and by their potentialities. As provocatively pointed out by Brynjlfsson and McAfee (2014), the roots of today’s challenges in our economy are not merely that a “Great Recession” or a “Great Stagnation”, but rather that we are in the early throes of a “Great Restructuring”.  

The present technological transformation penetrates the structure of the markets in which these technologies are produced, imposing new competitive rules, new strategic elements on which innovation processes are based, new sources of profitability as well as new sources of threats. But it also encompasses profound changes in society, impossible to be even imagined in a futuristic picture, like a “near workless world”, a “completely automated factory”, an automation of non-routine activities like medical operations carried out remotely, all of which affect the quality and quantity of future jobs and our everyday life (Autor, 2019; Schawb, 2017).

This session has tackled some of these important opportunities and challenges and has highlighted that regions face both of them in reality. In 4.0 technologies’ markets, within a remarkable technological cumultativeness trend, opportunities exist for newcomer regions to emerge as new islands of creative destruction and innovation, especially for the creation of recombinatorial and application oriented inventions. In terms of adoption of 4.0 technologies, even if structural and sectoral conditions largely drive their adoption at regional level, there are also cases of regions with high adoption rates in absence of favourable sectoral specialisations as well as of regions with favourable sectoral specialisations but weak adoption rates. A possible explanation of this mismatch is that the adoption of 4.0 technologies requires functional links between the generic ICT sector and application of ICT in industries and services. But, with a few exceptions, European regions are lagging behind in this respect. In terms of labour markets, fears about the effects of technological progress on employment are generally misguided either by technological determinism or by pessimistic views. Employment effects are not general but industry and occupation specific. In particular, they tend to be positive for experts in IT firms but negative in IT firms not involved in 4.0 technologies as well for (low-qualified) helpers in other industries, leading to polarisation effects in labour markets.

Opportunities and threats arise for regions as the transformations and impacts of the 4th industrial revolution unfold.

Take away message

Opportunities do exist for newcomer regions to emerge as new islands of creative destruction and innovation in 4.0 technologies’ markets, despite a remarkable technological cumultativeness trend. Favourable sectoral specialisation conditions drive regional adoption trends of 4.0 technologies but there may be cases of regions achieving high adoption rates without favourable sectoral specialisations. Employment effects of 4.0 technologies adoption are not general but industry and occupation specific, leading to polarisation effects.

Photos

Additional information



Roberta Capello, Camilla Lenzi: The geography of the production of 4.0 inventions is broad; the production of application-oriented inventions is spreading in space offering new technological opportunities to newcomer regions. Within a remarkable technological cumultativeness trend, opportunities exist for newcomer regions to merge as new islands of creative destruction and innovation.

Slavo Radosevic: The adoption of 4.0 technologies in regions is largely driven by their structural and sectoral conditions. Importantly, adoption of 4.0 technologies requires functional links between the generic ICT sector and application of ICT in industries and services. However, with few exceptions, European regions are lagging behind in that respect.

Uwe Blien: There are intensive fears about the effects of technological progress on employment. Employment effects are not general but industry and occupation specific, being positive for experts in IT firms but negative in IT firms not involved in 4.0 technologies as well for (low-qualified) helpers in other industries, creating polarisation effects.

This is Your session – comment and interact!
Be the first to add your comment regarding to this session!
Any comment not related to the session itself will be ignored and deleted.