Abstract. The analysis of the fourth industrial revolution outlines the structural changes arising in industries, as described by firm managers, scientists and consultants, as well as the literature on the fourth industrial revolution. It raises the need for new industrial policies, which are discussed in this paper. Structural changes arising in specific industries might have effects on other industries (due to complementarities) and on the whole economic system. Industrial policy must therefore be based on an analysis of productive processes, but also on analyses of the interactions between different productive processes. Favoring structural changes in one sector may have positive or negative impacts on other sectors; it may also impact upon the labour market, changing the skill required in the labour force, as well as wages. We argue that industrial policies are particularly needed when the economy experiences deep transformations, such as industrial revolutions. The advent of digital globalization is primarily driven by the technological progress induced by the fourth industrial revolution, but we believe that industrial revolutions are the result of complex transformations of the economy, the society and culture. We define industrial policy in a broad manner, as a set of actions aimed to favor structural changes in industries and orientating industrial development in specific directions. Such actions regard innovation, trade, intellectual property rights and antitrust; they also regard labour, because firms cannot upgrade or be created if they do not find the human capital they need for their operations. Looking at providing appropriate human capital means considering social policies, labour contracts and measures to favor the participation in the labour force. It also means considering education and training, because they determine the types of skills people will be able to develop.
Keywords: Industry 4.0, industrial policy, global value chains, circular economy, reverse logistics, reshoring, digital infrastructure, regional disparities
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