Industrie 4.0 und soziale Innovation - Fremde oder Freunde?

Industrie 4.0 and Social Innovation

Under “labor politicians" there is consensus on the theory that it depends on the specific sociotechnical design which pros and cons will accompany the realization of Industrie 4.0. Therefore, Social Innovations must contribute to the implementation of human-oriented and participatory forms of redesign of labor organisations. However, theoretical insights in the area of social innovation are generally not taken into account and are not systematically integrated into Industrie 4.0

In this short study, a critical evaluation of Industrie 4.0 is presented from the perspective of the concept of “Social Innovation" as developed by the research institute for societal development (FGW) in Dortmund. From this point of view, it becomes clear that, through a technocratic vision, Industrie 4.0 lacks a comprehensive approach to innovation and leads to a problematic narrowing of the digital agenda. The debate on Arbeit 4.0 would brings further impetus here and would allow the development of conceptual alternatives.

Key points

The main points of the report are:

  1. In summary the criticism of the program Industrie 4.0 is:

    • the program has a speculative character;

    • there are excessive expectations regarding the importance and economic and societal benefits;

    • the program neglects the risks, the necessary investments, sustainability and vision;

    • it shows little sensitivity to societal challenges;

    • it underexposes alternatives in the field of digital transformation.

  2. The second point of criticism is that Industrie 4.0 is not in line with the  German federal government’s holistic high tech strategy and the research and innovation expert group (EFI).

  3. This does not turn down Industrie 4.0, on the contrary. However, it is necessary to explore digital transformation not only from the economic and industrial perspective, but also explore the digital potential in terms of industry and (new) services, new business models and solving societal problems.

  4. In particular, the reinforcement of the Platform Arbeiten 4.0 can contribute to a holistic strategy.


Ralf Kopp, Industrie 4.0 und soziale Innovation – Freunde oder Fremde? (Oktober 2016), FGW-Studie. Digitalisierung von Arbeit 02. The study is attached.