The aim of this study is to explore the genuineness and defining characteristics of an apparent global societal shift towards post-industrialism and if supported, to better understand the underlying drivers behind this transformation. From this exploration, I hope to derive the foundation of a framework to better evaluate corporate-based decisions in this transitional era.
More than just a shift from a manufacturing-focused to an information- and service-based economy, as the post-industrial economy is often described, I believe that civilisation – in particular in developed nations - is in the midst of a larger societal transition. This transition seems to me to be above all, a change in the underlying objectives of society. This is what I define as “post-industrial transition”.
The industrial era’s main driver was alleviating the pre-industrial systemic limitations in successfully addressing basic human needs (food, clothing, shelter, health and well-being, financial security, etc.). Thus, society was reshaped, driven by a core need for mass-production.
Though by no means complete, I would argue that that aim was successfully achieved for most people in the developed world by the mid-1950s. However, our societies have not fundamentally changed since, and today, we find ourselves witnessing the limitations of this current model when addressing new and yet unmet societal needs. In other words, our current societal model is optimised to address partly-solved issues and ill-equipped to address additional “newer” needs.
Though some of these “new” needs are starting to be clearly defined (a need for sustainable use of resources for example), others are less well known. The main aim of this study is to more comprehensively catalogue them, so as to gain a better understanding of these and enable ultimately, a faster adoption of appropriate systemic changes to better address all needs. Though this last part is the true aim of such work, this will in all likelyhood not be covered by the study.
To achieve the initial aim, I wish to use a trends and forecasting methodology.
In the past few years, there have been many experiments of new models across a wide range societal sub-sectors (business models, organisational structures, education, public governance, non-economic indicators, etc.). I wish to analyse these experiments to uncover common trends which drivers should constitute these newer societal needs. This in turn, will form my work hypothesis and allow forecasting of new developments in all sub-sectors. If corroborated by observation in the other sectors, these forecasts offer a way to support the hypothesis’ validity.
This methodology does not guarantee exhaustivity, but hopefully will highlight a group of coherent drivers, that could constitute a satisfactory answer to my study and better describe the current stage of post-industrial transition.
To gain knowledge on these experiments, I intend to interview a series of experts both academic and professionals, in various geographies so as to gain as possibly comprehensive an understanding.
The expected outcomes of this study will hopefully be a richly-illustrated description of this transition’s nature and drivers. This should hopefully constitute a good basis to update corporate decision-making tools, respecting these new societal drivers.
Personally, I believe this transition is under way but has been put off for too long which is the reason for many crises we face today. The sooner we change the better. This study is a way for me to challenge my beliefs and if they hold up, allow me to start designing framework tools to better chose between current solutions put forward.