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Programmes Technological & Economic Change

Oxford Martin Programme on Technological and Economic Change

The Challenge

The Oxford Martin Programme on Technological and Economic Change will investigate how technological advances will significantly disrupt the global economy and societies in the coming decades.

The exponential improvement in computing power already has led to radical breakthroughs in machine intelligence, with autonomous vehicles and the disintermediation of long established business models by companies such as Airbnb and Uber indicative of the revolutions to come. Progress in genetic sequencing and nano materials will have transformative effects upon health and medicine, as well as agriculture. Robotics, the internet of things and 3D printing will transform manufacturing, supply chains and control systems. Meanwhile, dramatic improvements in the efficiency of renewable energy sources and the need to rapidly reduce carbon emissions are leading to radical changes in energy, transport, food and other systems.

New technologies have the potential to fundamentally disrupt economic growth, investment, savings, consumption, employment, incomes, pensions, careers and productivity. Yet our understanding of what this will mean for the global economy, and how it will impact on markets, cities and societies is, at best, limited.

The Oxford Martin Programme on Technological and Economic Change aims to identify the key technological disruptors and consider their impact on the global economy and society.

The programme also works together with researchers from the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment as part of a consortium on the Horizon 2020 funded 'Tecnnequality' research project. This research aims to understand how technological innovations affect the size and nature of social inequalities as well as the labour market outcomes in EU markets. It also looks into policies and institutional configurations that will effectively reduce technology driven inequalities.

Our Approach

The programme is unique in its approach of combining the expertise of leading scientists and technology experts with economists and other social scientists..

Focusing mainly, but not exclusively, on the largest economies (USA, China, India, Japan, UK and Europe), the researchers will seek to answer a number of questions, such as:

  • What can we learn from previous periods of disruptive technological change and how is this period of disruption different?
  • Is innovation slowing down or speeding up, and, if it is accelerating, how do we explain stagnant productivity growth in many leading economies?
  • What new business models might emerge from developing technologies, and what can we learn from the impact of new technologies on existing businesses?
  • What is disruptive technological change likely to bring for key sectors and firms, and which cities and countries are likely to be the winners and losers?
  • What impact will disruptive technologies have on jobs, employment and inequality?
  • What is the implication of these disruptions for savings and investment, and could these technologies lead to stagflation, unemployment and more unequal growth?
  • What is the implication of rising life expectancy for pensions, retirement and savings?
  • What are the risks posed by new technologies themselves, for example ‘runaway’ artificial intelligence and cyber warfare?
  • How quickly will fossil fuels be replaced and what are the technological and economic prospects for renewables and batteries and the implications of rapid decarbonisation?
  • How can policy, regulatory and other interventions shape and affect technological change?


The programme will provide fresh insights into the nature of rapid technological and economic change, and its implications for policy makers, government, business, investors and society. It will provide perspectives on education, skills and infrastructure, and investigate potential changes required to frameworks for intellectual property, competition and regulation to enhance productivity, savings, investment and more equitable growth. It will also investigate whether traditional measures of GDP and productivity adequately take account of the different dimensions of progress and technological change.

The Oxford Martin Programme on Technological and Economic Change is supported by Arrowgrass.