Chief executive of The Industrial Society, Will Hutton, has claimed the oil blockade was an example of the destructive power of networks.
Hutton told delegates that the blockade had been caused and made possible by the advent of new technology
He said information technology has begun to cause massive inequalities in British industry, with some areas of the economy enjoying a boom period and other areas on the verge of recession.
Hutton spoke of hot and cold networks, with the “hot” networks of high profitability and productivity excluding the unprofitable and unproductive “cold” networks from most of the economy.
He said, “The organisation is the network. Think about the virtuous circle of the hot network and the vicious circle of the cold.”
It was a cold network that caused the oil blockade, Hutton said, when modern technology such as the mobile phone and the Internet was turned against companies and the mainstream economy.
And information technology can exaggerate differences by creating networks that exclude certain geographical areas and industries, Hutton claimed.
Citing the cases of Silicon Valley in the US and the new “e-businesses” springing up in west London, Hutton said people and companies interacting via information technology can become clustered in super-rich business communities.