Future of work and global governance: international organisations in the fourth industrial revolution
The future of work emerged in the 2010s as a key problem for global institutions. The social consequences of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ represented a major concern in international policy spheres. Global forecasts about the risks of automation, the rise of the platform economy and the spread of algorithmic management, led international policy makers to take technological change seriously and develop measures to prevent major disruptions. This research examines the process by which the future of work became a global issue, one that gathered the attention of the most influential players in global social and labour policy: the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the World Bank, international business associations and global unions. From a theoretical perspective, the study looks at the articulation of multiple streams in these organisations in the context of the future of work agenda: problem definitions, policy solutions and political conflicts. Each of them showed a particular articulation of these streams, leading to different institutional outcomes. In terms of methods, the thesis refers to a large number of documents produced by these agencies –statements, reports, briefs-, as well as to elite interviews conducted with staff and high-level officials from each of them. The conclusions are that the future of work agenda in the 2010s eroded the conventional distinction between ‘social’ and ‘economic’ actors in global social governance, leading to a ‘Schumpeterian consensus’ that urges countries to ‘invest in people’ and prepare their workforce for a new technological era.