Industrial Revolutions and their impact on managerial practice: Learning from the past


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Technological changes that come with industrial revolution have largely affected businesses, as well as society. With the current technological shift and Fourth Industrial Revolution, many questions arise regarding the impacts and effects on current ways businesses operate. This study presents a retrospective analysis and overview of previous industrial revolutions. The aim of the retrospective analysis is to identify common characteristics that may lead to lessons learned for the forthcoming Fourth Industrial Revolution and thus complement the current debate on technological change. All previous industrial revolutions have led to change in business environments and new challenges for managers and owners. The findings show that all previous revolutions have led to increase in the number of service jobs created. The key approach of successful countries during the times of industrial revolution has included education as the source of new skills and knowledge necessary for adaption. Countries that were able to produce high skilled people could not only invent, but also adapt to new technologies sooner than others. Similarly, these approaches included introduction of new managerial practices in order to be able to utilize new technologies and new skilled workers effectively. The research article processes secondary data together with literature review on this topic.

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    • Figure 1. Demand for occupations in 1850–2010, US
    • Figure 2. Demand for factory workers
    • Figure 3. Demand for secretaries
    • Figure 4. Demand for professors
    • Figure 5. Demand for health care workers
    • Figure 6. Demand for engineers
    • Figure 7. Demand for blacksmith
    • Figure 8. Employment share change in 1850–2015, US
    • Figure 9. Relation between number of steam engines per person and unskilled workers in Britain
    • Figure 10. Share of high-skilled employment in total employment per sector, 2002
    • Figure 11. Employment shares by occupational skill level, 1986 and 2006
    • Figure 12. Employment trends by level of qualification, 2000–2020
    • Figure 13. Which jobs require social skills? Change in share of jobs, 1980–2012
    • Figure 14. Technology adoption in US households
    • Table 1. Actual and projected supply of workers, aged 25+ by educational attainment
    • Table 2. The evolution of learning