Established trends in human history are being altered by major innovations and breakthroughs, which result in revolutions. These revolutions bring about permanent changes from which new trends emerge. For managers it is becoming important to forecast the type and extent of forthcoming change and to take steps to anticipate them. To make long term forecasts established patterns must be identified using information from history.
The rapid advances in the agricultural and medical sector led to a decline in the rate of mortality and a surge in population during the late eighteenth century. As population expanded, it pressed upon the existing resources and the growing mismatch between people and resources was alarming in his “Essay on Population”, English curate. Thomas Robert Malthus, focused upon what appeared to him as the greatest problem facing the human species. According to Malthus, the power of population was definitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.
The interrelated issues of overpopulation, pressure upon land, migration, and technology’s power to increase productivity and traditional occupations still confront us today. In other words, we can see the economic and demographic conditions of the late eighteenth century as a metaphor for the challenges facing our society today. So, it is imperative that we come to understand the interconnectedness of these in today’s comparable dilemma from the agricultural societies to the knowledge based societies of the 21st century.
The agriculture revolution which enhanced the power of the earth proved Malthus’ dire predictions about England’s future wrong. In response to the world wide demand for food caused by population and enhanced standards of living, the population of root crops, meat, milk, fish, fruits and vegetables also increased. Large areas were cultivated and new machines, more fertilizers, better irrigation and crop rotation were introduced to farming across the world. This change known as the green revolution also saw advances because of bio-technological breeding of newer strains of plants. These plants turned out to be more durable, more resistant to diseases and pests, and produced higher yields.
In recent years the focus has shifted from agricultural revolution to bio-technology. This technique uses living organisms to make products, to improve plants or animals and to develop micro-organisms for specific uses. Today genetic engineers believe that in months or years they can achieve, by genetic manipulations, improvements in yields that would take decades using conventional plant breeding techniques.
To the developing world, bio-tech agriculture offers the greatest mix of advantages and disadvantages. The gap between population increases and overall food production would be narrowed of the bio-tech revolution works. Above all, it could remove the Malthusian trap confronting poorer societies.
Much before the industrial revolution, production units were owned by an individual or a family. Those with special talents and experience gained through years of practice started producing non-agricultural goods such as swords, shoes, and works of art. Exchange of goods was limited to local markets because and slow transport. The need for a larger market was great. This resulted in the beginning of several trading forms and traders who engaged in buying and selling of raw materials semi-finished goods and finished products. Many business men, like those from Venice, initiated both production of goods and trading on a larger scale than that of the single craftsman. They established workshops where many people could work. With the development of productive forces (when production becomes possible with the help of big machines), it was no longer easy for a single individual of a family to raise the necessary capital. The Institution of partnership and small business came into vogue.
The turning point in the production of non-agricultural goods and their wider distribution came with the industrial revolution which necessitated the construction of factories that eventually led to the large multinational corporations of today.
The industrial revolution began in England when peasants were brought to the factory to facilitate better supervision. The output produced by the workers expanded through the use of manually operated tools. This encouraged construction of more and larger factories which began producing greater quantity of goods. The arrival of the steam engine capable of replacing machines and tools spurred output and brought large gains in productivity. These steam driven machines were rapid, regular, precise and tireless. New inventions, new manufacturing techniques and new capital stimulated each other. Production costs and subsequently the prices of goods sold reduced to a point where they became affordable to a large segment of the population. This demand brought with it a need for greater production, higher employment and increased productivity through economies of scale. Specialized, large and medium sized firms to build the machines and tools needed by other manufacturing companies appeared. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution economies of scale have gained competitive advantage and contributed to the creation of large firms.