Industry 4.0 Management: A Hundred Years in the Making

John Marshall, Edinburgh Napier University
Letter to the Editor

Industry 4.0, or the fourth Industrial Revolution, is the integration of new technologies – Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, smart devices and more – into all aspects of the economy. In particular the implementation of algorithmic management offers rewards and controversy. As with previous revolutions, Industry 4.0 comes with the promise of more productivity but also carries the risk of harmful social change. Current implementations of Industry 4.0 and its associated technologies have undermined workers’ security, de-skilled jobs, and reduced autonomy, as well as giving employers unprecedented access to their workers’ lives.

The successful implementation of Industry 4.0 will require new investment in unfamiliar technologies. These new technologies, while offer new potential, can also have negative impact on workers, potentially damaging long term returns. It therefore becomes reasonable to ask: at what point do those costs outweigh the potential benefits for the worker?

By reviewing the historical case of Scientific Management and current implementations of Industry 4.0, this paper will suggest a direction for making Industry 4.0 more sustainable.

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