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The next K-Wave and the challenge of global democracy

Markku Wilenius (Professor, Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku, Turku, Finland)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The aim of the project on which this paper is based is to clarify – using Kondratieff theory of long-term socio-economic cycles – how the next (sixth) wave will look like. The focus lies in the socio-political aspect of change.


The article is a short and partial summary of a major project called “The Sixth Wave”. Workshops and surveys have been run in Finland and in Silicon Valley, California.


The project coordinators have been testing the theory of Kondratieff waves with various methods and have found it to be a convincing way to identify the patterns of change. It really brings in anticipatory power to its users.

Research limitations/implications

There are lots of interesting implications of using K-Wave as a framework to understand next decades. More research regarding the future technologies in the K-Wave context should be undertaken.

Practical implications

The author believes that the K-Wave framework can be also regarded as anticipatory tool for business. The heavy emphasis in the author’s K-wave theory on resource productivity as a technology driver for the next wave makes it obvious that all technologies and businesses that aim at performing with greater output with less material or energy input are regarded as winners of their respective schemes in the emerging wave as the demand for these services will rise dramatically.

Social implications

The author hopes the article will help people understand how fundamental the change K-Wave engenders in terms of democracy and trust, and that the article will also provide a more comprehensive view towards the transformation we are experiencing. The author anticipates that the idea of corporate social responsibility will become much more compelling in the sixth wave framework.


The project coordinators have given a whole new interpretation to the Kondratieff theory. They approach the theory with social science framework rather than customary economic framework, and have also tested their model with the project’s industrial partners.



Wilenius, M. (2015), "The next K-Wave and the challenge of global democracy", Foresight, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 35-52.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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