It has been a while since I last posted on the blog, and I have to excuse my absence with a research spree into the growing belief among economists that most of the developed world is close to the levelling of growth potential. This fascinating topic has by now a plethora of facets, with various opinions being debated in both social and academic circles. I found the discussions on energy and decentralization some of the most fascinating ones, since they are so closely connected to what I am working. Nonetheless, I will address one thing at the time.
To set the scene, the developed world is changing from within. The current economic model, which enjoys a widespread acceptance is capitalism (or liberalized market economy). What happens when this market functioning model is reaches the limit of productivity growth? It then enters a lethargic state of stagnation, or even decline. Its spill overs are increasingly turning into the breeding ground for a business models based on collaborative commons (shared economy). It is often argued that the communication revolution and subsequent changes of energy regimes serve at the onset of a powerful configuration which is gradually eroding the supremacy of capitalism, challenging its status-quo.
As for every system reshuffle the social engine is the force behind the shift. In this case, the emergence of a well educated generation of conscious individuals with a strong moral compass, which promotes the implementation of climate change mitigation options and is an early adopter of technological innovation, has the potential to set off a paradigm shift for the way society participates in the economy. This social force is generically called ‘the millennials’ (also denominated ‘generation Y’).
Millennials are the most educated generation to date and although education is no substitute for wisdom, millennials are critical and curious about the products and services they purchase. The wide range of diversity among millennials means that they access almost equally diverse consumer goods and services. They are less sensitive to price (as their previous generation) but claim a higher ethical standard for their investments.
Millennials need to be passionate about the work they do, and recruiters have seen an increased propensity of young professionals to opt for jobs in circular economy, recycling, renewable energy and smart technologies. Perhaps these jobs being less pervasive as conventional ones acts as a psychological ‘mush have’, which is why competition for engineers in the renewable energy sector is increasingly higher.
Millennials value transparency, which means that environmental wrong doing, such as emission and legislative frauds, are treated with anguish today and may very well be a death blow argument tomorrow.
Millennials are selective. They are interconnected and have access to pre-screened information channels. That is, marketing campaigns recurrently incorporate a social media dimension and Netflix has become yesterday’s television.
Millennials are political at need but not fanatic. The few instances when millennials have passionately contributed to poles representation have been the instances when their values were at stake.
Having millennials behind the steering wheel to foster system decentralization by building on the spill overs of capitalism by means of the internet-of-things platform has the potential to turn the emerging and niche applications of collaborative commons business models into ubiquitous success stories.
There are various thresholds that millennials need to cross over in order to be taken serious. I believe that the issue of timing and time is of the essence now. Does the momentum of the environmental movement provide enough thrust for them to take off, and if so how long will it take until their impact is significant as to structurally alter incumbent economic models?