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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: FP7 » Eastern working practices influencing the Western world?

version: 4 / updated: 2011-02-04
id: #1571 / version id: #1052
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Anthony Walker
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Last changed by: Anthony Walker
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

European Commission Framework Programme for RTD (FP7)

Theme/activity of inspiration

CAPACITIES: Science and society

Sub-theme/area of inspiration

Strategic activities

Optional reference/s to FP7 project/s

Use the following format: Project Acronym (Project Reference No.). Use commas if more than one project is associated to this Wild Card, for example: ALFA-BIRD (213266), SAFAR (213374), LAPCAT-II (211485)

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
Eastern working practices influencing the Western world?

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
Working practices for manufacturers (such as ipods) in China are very poor and have led to a number of suicide attempts. If western practices are taken on board, then the demand for products may not be met and the Western world cannot afford to manufacture which could lead to a downturn in new technological and innovative products and a crash in the European economy.


working practices, product demand, innovation, Western economy, Eastern working, Europe


(max. 250 characters)
Working practices for manufacturers (such as ipods) in China are very poor and have led to a number of suicide attempts.

Signal's first apperance


Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 Improved working conditions. new/emerging
very beneficial
#2 Level playing field for manufacturing globally. new/emerging
very beneficial
#3 Reduction in commercialisation due to reduced productivity. new/emerging
mainly beneficial
#4 Social unrest and fracture of political parties. Adoption of underground ‘sweatshops’ in Europe. re-emerging
#5 Continuation of current trends and pressures globally. Economic problems of lack of collaboration with East/West and find it hard to remain competitive. continuation

Under what assumption the Weak Signal might evolve.

Continuation of current trends and pressures globally.


please specify
please select
Level 4: important for the whole world Affecting trade and growth in different ways possibly towards convergence

Filters preventing the signal's monitoring

information/communicational filters (media/editorial interests, language, reasoning)
political filters (party or ideological interests)

Comments on selection:

Mainly the availability of information and political pressure for growth

Key driving forces of this signal

Please use these boxes to provide up to 2 drivers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
Driver 1 Driver 2
Social Social reform
Economic Governed by world trade and labour costs
Political Human rights issues
Values/Ethical/Cultural Ethical issues govern push for improvements

Major risks & opportunities associated to the signal

Please choose the most appropriate timeframe option(s) to which you would like to provide inputs.
Risks Opportunities
before 2015 Lowered productivity Human rights improved
between 2015-2025 Exploitation of other developing countries to replace China as competitiveness is reduced Working conditions and wages improved
between 2025-2050 Reduction in European quality of life / growth Growth of Europe in other areas (eg manufacturing becomes more competative in replacement of pursuit of knowledge economy)

Potential stakeholders' actions

short-term actions
(after 2015)
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) Pressurire China over working conditions
Business actors (incl. SMEs) Get ready to take advantages of new opportunities as economics change Take advantage of new opportunities as economics change
Non-for-profit organisations (e.g. NGOs, political parties, social movements, voluntary associations) Pressurise China over working conditions Pressurise China over working conditions
Media Publicise issues
General public Fair working accreditation system uptake by consumers

Signal's relevance for European Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Behavioural change Consumerism affected by price of products
Coexistence and conflicts International unrest a possibilty in new order
Crime and terrorism Opportunities for crime and black market exploitation of labour
Ethics and abuse of S&T Especially China
Social exclusion & poverty All changing
Social cohesion and diversity Especially for china
Work-Life balance and mental health Knock-on effects
Economic prosperity/dynamics All changing
Globalization vs. localization Change widespread

Signal's relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Social Sciences and Humanities Address changes
International S&T Cooperation With developing countries

Signal's relevance for future R&D and STI policies

Note: RTD = research and technology development; STI = science, technology and innovation
Affected by outside influences, need to respond to ensure focus