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Beyond4.0: Starting The Research By Starting The Debate
by Steven Dhondt | 28.03.2019

Nine excellent research teams from all over the European Union are combining their intellect and capacities for the next four years to research the challenges of the digital transformation for our economy (1). Our main working hypothesis in writing our winning proposal was that the transformation of the European economy can only be successful if the European workers themselves are at the center of this change. What binds the team is this believe that (financial) capital is not the driving force of a successful change. It is the combined effort of labour and capital that is needed. And we know this from our own long experience in workplaces, in companies, in sectors and in economies. We have many examples in which workplace innovation is clearly driving the change.

Over the past six years, most of the partnership has collaborated in the European Workplace Innovation Network to help companies and policy makers understand what bottom-up change in companies means for productivity and better work. We are glad that EUWIN is prepared to let the communication channels to be continued by the BEYOND-network. We will do this with pride and conviction. The @euwinEU will be our Twitter-channel for the coming four years.

Our team has a long track record in looking at the input from the worker side. The EU-projects QuInnE, SI-DRIVE, and some further in the past the MEADOW-project and WALQING, are proof of our commitment to the understanding of this worker input. The BEYOND-team will use a multi-method historical, qualitative and quantitative methodology to develop our understanding of the digital transformation. So, our research is a research into the capabilities of the current European workers, their strengths and capabilities. We are looking at the skills changes that are visible. Not only to stress that all should acquire academic skills, but also to develop lifelong learning approaches for all workers. We are looking at how companies shape themselves. We do not single out the Superstar companies as the sole winners of the digital transformation. Our plight is to understand the step towards entrepreneurial ecosystems in which collaboration between companies is central to the transformation of companies, sectors and regions.

To deal with the predicted changes, it is important to understand the functions of safety nets for workers. Social security arrangements have functioned in different forms over Europe. But these arrangements have come under a lot of pressure. The call is for basic income to save the day. We will be looking into this issue. We are not alone in this effort. We can rely on a superB advisory board, bringing us insights from all parts of the European Union, but also from America. We build on help from European agencies, trade unions and regional representatives to get our work done.

The only thing I can say at this moment is that I am super excited at the prospect of doing this work for the coming years. And most of all, of being able to get into discussion with all you readers. This is an opportunity for you all to participate.

We like to hear your opinion! Tweet on @Beyond4_0 . Steven Dhondt (1) TNO; Institute for Employment Research (The University of Warwick); Sozialforschungsstelle Dortmund (sfs - Technische Universität Dortmund); Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences); Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (University College London); University of Turku; Centre d’Études de l’Emploi et du Travail-Lirsa (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers),; University of Helsinki; Universidad del País Vasco/Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea.