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Industry 4.0: revolution or hype? Reassessing recent technological trends and their impact on labour

Armanda Cetrulo () and Alessandro Nuvolari ()
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Armanda Cetrulo: Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna

Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics, 2019, vol. 46, issue 3, No 7, 402 pages

Abstract: Abstract The aim of this paper is to reassess the current view of technological trends adopting a historical perspective. In our interpretation, the historical record provides some suggestive evidence for a more sceptical view of the notion of an emerging “fourth” industrial revolution. Indeed, even at an impressionistic glance, the recent developments in AI, communication and robotics that are marked as the core of the fourth industrial revolution, appear as a rather natural prolongation of the ICT macro-trajectories described in this paper. At the same time, to study the relation between technology and labour, we focus on the plant level as the most useful unit of analysis to consider the complex interaction between management systems, labour process and technological innovations. In this sense, we examine two Internet of Things’ technologies in order to underline the persistence of a fundamental trait of the capitalist mode of production, namely the exertion of control over workers. Consistently, we expect a continuity between newly emerging management practices and previous management systems, especially referring to the ones adopted during the ICT revolution.

Keywords: Industry 4.0; ICT revolution; Management system; Control (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O30 O14 L23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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DOI: 10.1007/s40812-019-00132-y

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Economia e Politica Industriale: Journal of Industrial and Business Economics is currently edited by C. Cambini, M.G. Colombo, L. Piscitello, L. Rondi and A. Zanfei

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