Leeds Business School

Pandemic awareness, business models and (im)possible futures

In a series of five blogs published by the Real World Economic Review, Professor Jamie Morgan explores the development of pandemic awareness, public health business models and the construction of (im)possible futures.
Rose Bowl building

In his first blog, Jamie elaborates on the future we have come to occupy where social distancing, lockdown, phased releases and a background sense of uncertainty and foreboding grip society. A world where some governments have been better prepared and responded more proficiently than others and one where pandemic awareness may become a permanent feature of our societies as we move forward. What our ‘new’ world will become is not a given, it depends on what we do now and the choices that we make in constructing it. 

 In part 2, he discusses the role of science in policy making and the critical role that trust plays in the construction of new realities.  He suggests that it is impossible by  virtue of the very nature of good ‘science’ to suggest that ‘guided by the science’ is meaningful, as though the phrase passes responsibility for decisions taken by politicians from politicians to scientists. In the end, there are choices to make and these are not just taken by politicians, they are political. 

In part 3, Jamie calls for governments to demonstrate competence and address the inequalities being brought to the fore by the pandemic before going on to theorise about what a new normal might look like - and its cost to society. 

In part 4, the likelihood of a V-shaped recovery is questioned and some implications for the development of new public health business models are discussed.  The likely outcome of the new models is that they will systematically reduce net economic activity.  Given the ripple effects associated with these models,  some of the greatest impact (in wealthy economies at least) is likely to be where final consumption of products and services is a larger part of the economy.  The challenges of an economy dependent largely upon consumption  is highlighted in part 5 and Jamie speculates on what the future holds – a future where pandemic awareness plays a major role in the use of space and technology.  At its bleakest, this suggests a new wave of structural unemployment and economic turmoil as devastated economies construct a response to the impact of COVID-19.  A more optimistic outlook is the opportunity that COVID-19 provides an opportunity for innovation and the development of a new future more in tune with addressing the challenges associated with climate change, inequality and improving the health and wellbeing of people than our previous incarnation. 

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