What about the Workers? the Latest Industrial Revolution and Its Shop Floor Effects
This contribution is structured as follows: we will introduce the German discussion on the latest industrial transformation, for which the term “Industrie 4.0” has been coined. The dominant strand within this debate predicts positive economic effects: According to BITKOM`s (an association of IT businesses) calculations, there is a potential to create a relevant increase of GDP and efficiency effects supporting a break-through for green economic growth. When it comes to expected results of “Industrie 4.0” on work and employment, projections of fully automated production and deserted factories are widely rejected. Quite to the contrary, workers will take increasingly coordinating functions in production and will be able to develop and broaden their skills.
We will then present case studies from an interdisciplinary research project. Using original qualitative data we will offer an account of the discernible effects of digital rationalisation on working conditions, health and safety and worker participation in the workplace. For this purpose, we have identified organisations that are quite advanced when it comes to the application of cyber-physical technologies. These empirical insights help us identify problematic forms of work organizations caused by digitalised, networked processes, new software and machine-to-machine communication.