This Policy Brief focuses on the different ways in which technological revolutions have been studied and understood historically. While some attempts have been made to outline definitive historical periods with categorical empirical evidence, they have not produced tight conclusions.
This Policy Brief is different. It summarises the study of economic cycles and the history of previous transformations and critically outlines the benefits and limitations of essentially conceptual frameworks. It proposes complementing Schwab's ‘4th Industrial Revolution’ approach with the neo-Schumpeterian scholarship, which highlights the crucial role that governments play in the successful deployment of new socio-technical systems. At the same time, it offers recommendations for policymakers on how to understand the past so that policy can be better designed to ensure that the new technologies deliver a socially and environmentally sustainable future.
Image: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (LC-DIG-nclc-01581)