This article is the second in series of articles on social innovations and post-modernism. It is about the business model innovations as viewed from the perspective of post-modernism. The first part is an introduction to the terms and definitions to set the right language and tone on post-modernism.
In the previous article, we inferred that a post-modernist society is post-fordist and post-taylorist, meaning that slicing and dicing of work which has a separation of design and execution and where there is a functional division of labor resulting in alienation of the worker is grand-fathered. It is about the dawn of post-capitalist society comprising of knowledge workers.
Modernity as inherited from the French and Industrial revolutions through the birth and application of reason respectively, has resulted in the growth of Capitalism, where accumulation of the surplus produce is legalized and supported by both common and civil laws. And, the industrial society is seeing the effects of this accumulation from unbridled self-interest of individuals pursuing this means of production through huge accumulations of private capital and it’s deployment to the detriment of environment etc…
Modernism as a cultural critique of the accumulation of this surplus and later, post-modernism as another means to individual sate (as in the ability to make choices out of “freedom”) could be resulting in another type of Capitalists in this world – I call them Knowledge/ Information Capitalists and it seems to be happening in the society.
For example, Uber does not own any cars, but, has information that connects the “owners” of the cars to the “tenants” (passengers). While passengers and owners, as individuals in the society are gratified because of the ease of service, the other side of the story is Uber becoming a new breed of Capitalist who DOES NOT own the tangible, but, owns only the intangible i.e. knowledge/ information!
It is not something new that Uber is bringing to the production process. Such structures are already existing in the society. For example, the whole industry of consultants is based on the knowledge and expertise that can be applied in a typical modernist organization.
But, what is different today is that with the information aggregators like Uber, there is the centralization of knowledge around which a post-modernist organization is built to help in monetizing the assets of individuals who not only own capital, but, also apply their labor to create wealth. The question is: how do we treat the profits or surplus created out of this process of wealth creation by such novel applications of knowledge?
In the post-modernist era, is there a need to differently interpret Marx’s “surplus” in the context of distributed ownership of the capital, where neither the state nor the big capitalist owns the major means of production?
And, do we need more such business model innovations that essentially use knowledge to monetize the assets owned by individuals in the society?
For example, what kind of innovations are needed to monetize the asset called smart phone? Can this asset be monetized, say, by leasing the computing time for businesses?
And, is there a possibility of such production processes that monetize the assets owned by individuals a game changer in the way wealth gets created and distributed? What if Government’s welfare spending is in the form of distribution of these assets that can be monetized by knowledge capitalists like Uber?