The Tuesday Talk
Tuesday March 3, 2020 4:00pm
Presenter:Dr Alan Burton-Jones
Sala Marbella in the Hapimag Resort, Camilo Jose Cela, Marbella



The famous Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter coined the term “gales of creative destruction” to describe the dual economic impacts of technological change – destroying old industries and jobs while creating new ones. In this talk Alan Burton-Jones describes the destructive and creative impacts of new technologies on what are generally regarded as opposite ends of the service spectrum: the supply of disciplinary knowledge and expertise by lawyers, doctors, accountants and other professional experts and the supply of personal caring services by nurses, beauticians, hairdressers and others.

He describes how, for centuries, the provision of services requiring specialist disciplinary knowledge has typically been provided by academically qualified human experts, organized in professional groups. Traditionally, society has had to rely upon such professionals for their rare personal expertise and paid highly for their services.  As the supply of disciplinary knowledge shifts from people to machines, however, what was once rare human expertise is increasingly becoming automated, commoditized and available online, disrupting many traditional professional jobs, while creating new ones, needing different skills.

At the other end of the service spectrum, he describes how the supply of personal services has depended on different forms of knowledge: mainly social, emotional and creative skills, plus technical know-how, much of it acquired and honed on the job.  While reliant upon such workers and their skills society has not seen a need to pay highly for their services.  Such intensely human skills, however, are difficult to automate and standardize. New technologies are as a result more likely to leverage and enhance personal services rather than replace them and in the process may even increase their value.

Alan Burton- Jones discusses the implications of these “gales of creative destruction” and their potential implications for current service workers, students considering their future careers and – not least – the increasingly service-dependent general public.


About the presenter


Formerly director of BOC’s computer services business in Europe, Alan Burton-Jones moved to Australia, where he developed a management consultancy business and studied for a PhD at Canberra University.  He is currently a senior lecturer at Griffith University in Australia and adjunct assistant professor at New South Wales and Bond Universities. He has consulted to organizations in Asia, the UK and USA on strategies for IT-business integration and has published widely on the knowledge economy and intellectual capital. He is the author of Knowledge Capitalism: (Oxford University Press, 2005) and co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Human Capital, (Oxford University Press, 2011)


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