Ahmet Aykaç (Theseus) : The change of work
'By leaving the industrial society to enter the information one, we are going from the employer-employee relation to a system of partnership. The social laws will have to adapt.'
Specialized in the management by the new technologies, the Theseus Institute, set up in Sophia Antipolis, studied the problem of work and of the social laws. Moreover, its director Ahmet Aykaç, with other academics, launched a great programme of research on the changing nature of work and of the relations in work. What is his opinion ? The current framework of the social laws is going to explode under the thrusts of the new economy.Sophianet.com : What leads you to this conclusion ?Ahmet Aykaç :'Let's have a look on the things in terms of economic power. What is the economic power ? It is the ability to use the fruit of work of someone else. If I can take the fruit of your work, I have the economic power on you.From here, shall we analyse what has been happening since Antiquity. In Greece or in Rome, the politic system was based on slavery. It was the economy keystone. If we talk in a cold way, the aim of the exercise was to optimise the slave's work. Then, the feudal system came up. And the economic power was centred on the land ownership. All the legal system aimed at the optimisation of the land acquiring.The industrial revolution tipped over the whole system toward the capital holding. The economic power was no longer in the land but in the holding of the means of production. An other legal system set up for the optimisation of the capital use.It obviously comes up that there is a close relation between work and the social system : If today I ask what the source of the economic power will be by 5 to 10 years, everyone answers : information and knowledge. Thus, the legal system will have to change in order to allow the optimisation of the knowledge acquiring.What is the entry to the information society going to change ?Ahmet Aykaç :The shift from the industrial society to the information one implies a deep change in work nature. While it is possible to separate capital from men, it remains more difficult to do so with knowledge and men, that are both very close parts. You can become the owner of machines and pay men to work on these machines. On the other hand, you cannot become the owner of someone's knowledge. For that, you have to become his or her partner. To have access to someone's knowledge, you will have better to use other kinds of relations, as the relations that have to do with partnership.The current social laws govern the relations between the capital owner and the salaried employee who has only his work to sell. To be efficient, it will be needed to go from the employer-employee relations toward a system of partnership with an association in the decision taking and in the share of profits as well as of risks. But, it will become quickly impossible to manage a system that has got very different basis, with laws that are dated. Thus, laws are going to change inevitably…How long ?Ahmet Aykaç :The Church needed 600 years to crush the Roman Empire. Industry broke the feudal system in 100 years. The deep change that we are experiencing today, should take 20 or 30 years. But, it is already 10 years since the process has been starting.Which advice would you give to your students ?Ahmet Aykaç :There are two main pieces of advice : first : they must bear in mind that they have to be mobile. To think they are going to stay in the same firm for thirty years is something completely wrong. Besides, a way to be mobile is to have an intellectual capital. Two : the intellectual capital depreciates faster than a machine, so they always need to update it…'