As Germany’s social market economy is increasingly faced with challenges resulting from the progressing digitalisation, there are a number of questions which still remain unanswered: What regulatory measures and investments are necessary to ensure a successful digital transformation? And which social market economy principles are affected by this transformation? These were some of the questions addressed by Professor Irene Bertschek, head of the Research Department “Digital Economy” of the Mannheim-based Centre for Economics Research (ZEW), in her speech at the fifth “Bad Boller Wirtschaftsgespräch” on 14 July 2017. The conference centred on the topic “Social Market Economy and Digitalisation”.

ZEW Research Department Head Professor Irene Bertschek during her speech.
ZEW Research Department Head Professor Irene Bertschek during her speech.

“The digital transformation should not merely be considered in terms of its technological implications, but rather as a complex issue which requires careful consideration of the workers and the central role they have in this process,” said Irene Bertschek in her keynote speech at the beginning of the conference. She further explained that in light of the progressing digitalisation, established ways of thinking in the economy and society need to be challenged. “Many of the existing task profiles and job descriptions are undergoing a significant transformation. This is why further training and lifelong education will be key to the overall success of the digitalisation process. In this respect, it is important that further training schemes are not limited to technology-specific competences, but include measures which aim to improve the workers’ problem-solving and self-organisation abilities,” explained Bertschek.

At the conference, Professor Bertschek also participated in a panel discussion which focused on the opportunities and risks of digital transformation for social market economy. In the panel discussion, Irene Bertschek was joined by Katrin Schütz, State Secretary at the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing, Fabian Ladda, Public Policy Associate at Uber Germany, Dr. Rolf Bulander, member of the board of management at Robert Bosch GmbH and spokesperson of AEU Württemberg, as well as by Dr. Martin Kastrup, treasurer of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Württemberg. The discussion was moderated by Peter Heilbrunner, editor at the regional public broadcasting company SWR.

The conference series “Bad Boller Wirtschaftsgespräche” is jointly organised by the Protestant Academy Bad Boll and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for Economic Affairs, Labour and Housing with the aim of providing a platform for discussing economic and ethical key issues.



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