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KAFP 3315 - History of Technology Revolution

Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Autumn 2017-2018

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English


This course is designed to put the digital economy into perspective with an overview of 200 years of technological revolutions. It will be particularly useful for every student interested in technology, economics, institutions, and history. It will also be useful for all those pursuing a career in technology companies that are at the forefront of the current transition, or those that are about to join government agencies and traditional companies undergoing their own digital transformation.

Course Description

According to Carlota Perez's Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, the digital revolution is the fifth technological revolution in 200 years. We're still early in the process of tackling the challenges that come with the current revolution. Yet as it is mainly a recurrence of what happened in the past with treadmills, railroads, steel and car manufacturing, it appears particularly useful to study history and devise where we are in the process, how current fears can be dealt with, and what institutions are still needed to make the digital economy more sustainable and inclusive. This course will be divided into three parts. The first will be dedicated to the previous technological revolutions, from the 18th century to the development of the Ford Motor Company and its aftermath. The second part will go into more details of the history of the Fordist economy, in the 20th century, and its demise after the 70s oil shocks, the globalization of finance and the rise of the first tech companies. Finally, the third part will be dedicated to understanding the digital economy, its origins in Silicon Valley, the challenges it currently poses on society and how we can sustain its development in the coming years. Also, various articles can be found on the following page as part of an essential reading list:


  • COLIN, Nicolas Y. (Président de Cause Builder)
  • VITAUD, Laetitia (Consultant - CADRE NOIR LIMITED)

Pedagogical format

Introduction 1. The New Great Transformation. (1/3) Understanding Past Technological Revolutions. 2. The Industrial Revolution. 3. The Railroad Revolution. 4. The Steel Revolution. (2/3) From the Fordist Economy to the Digital Economy. 5. Car Manufacturing and the Dawn of a New Paradigm. 6. The Fordist Economy in the 1930s: the Labor Movement and the Rise of Fascism. 7. The Fordist Economy after WWII: The Importance of Inclusive Institutions. 8. The Crisis of the Fordist Economy and Its Aftermath. (3/3) The Digital Economy. 9. The History of Silicon Valley. 10. Venture Capital and the Financing of Tech Startups. 11. Bubble Bursting, or the End of the Installation Phase. 12. The Current Deployment Phase and Its Many Institutional Challenges.

Course validation

An oral presentation (50%) + the writing of a story to be published on Medium (50%, partly based on reading figures). Reading assignments and class attendance are mandatory.

Required reading

  • Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time, 1944
  • Carlota Perez, Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital, 2002
  • William Janeway, Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy, 2012