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Torn between digitized future and context dependent past – How implementing ‘Industry 4.0’ production technologies could transform the German textile industry

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  • Fromhold-Eisebith, Martina
  • Marschall, Philip
  • Peters, Robert
  • Thomes, Paul

Abstract

Digitized production technologies in terms of ‘Industry 4.0’ appear to herald the future of industrial development especially in mature economies, such as Germany. It is expected that this new paradigm, which employs digital tools for coordinating all value chain interactions, will significantly improve product quality, process efficiency and international competitiveness. While Industry 4.0 options raise high hopes among policymakers, it is often overlooked how ambivalently upcoming changes are viewed by industry actors themselves. This paper shows how the historical roots and context conditions of an industry shape and at times significantly hamper future prospects of technology driven progress. In our case, context refers to industry specific development trajectories, market challenges, actor constellations, and value chain characteristics, as well as local conditions prevailing in industry clusters. We explore the case of technical textile production in Germany, where Industry 4.0 elements are just starting to transform the industry's internal and external operations. Based on empirical mixed methods research in three textile clusters including a stakeholder workshop, we identify major factors that shape the implementation of novel digital production technologies and draft three narrative future scenarios. Finally, some policy recommendations are derived.

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  • Fromhold-Eisebith, Martina & Marschall, Philip & Peters, Robert & Thomes, Paul, 2021. "Torn between digitized future and context dependent past – How implementing ‘Industry 4.0’ production technologies could transform the German textile industry," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 166(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:tefoso:v:166:y:2021:i:c:s0040162521000524
    DOI: 10.1016/j.techfore.2021.120620
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    2. Lei Shen & Cong Sun & Muhammad Ali, 2021. "Path of Smart Servitization and Transformation in the Textile Industry: A Case Study of Various Regions in China," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(21), pages 1-15, October.

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