Will the World Ever Be the Same after COVID-19? Two Lessons from the First Global Crisis of a Digital Age

26 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2020

See all articles by Mark Fenwick

Mark Fenwick

Kyushu University - Graduate School of Law

Joseph A. McCahery

Tilburg University - School of Law; European Banking Center (EBC); Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Erik P. M. Vermeulen

Tilburg University - Department of Business Law; Signify (formerly known as Philips Lighting) - Legal Department; Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); Kyushu University - Graduate School of Law

Date Written: July 24, 2020

Abstract

Coronavirus is the first global crisis of a digital age and the divergence in policy responses reflects the challenge of navigating an unprecedented global situation under conditions of enormous uncertainty. We ask what lessons can be learned from this experience and identify two, both of which push against mainstream interpretations of recent events.

First, and contrary to the view that the crisis exposed social media and Big Tech as a source of dangerous misinformation that needs to be regulated more strictly, the paper argues that the less mediated spaces of the Internet – social media and Twitter, in particular – played an essential role in triggering a more effective policy response based around social distancing, lockdown, and containment.

Second, and contrary to the view that things will go back to normal once the worst of the crisis has passed, the paper argues that, as a direct result of lockdown, the status quo has been shifted across multiple sectors of the economy. Three examples of this shift are introduced, notably the forced experimentation with digital technologies in education and health, the increased use of remote work in many companies, and a reduction in environmentally harmful behavior and a decrease in pollution levels. The long-term effects of this ‘reset’ are impossible to predict, but a quick return to the ‘old normal’ seems unlikely.

The paper concludes with the suggestion that this reset has created a unique historical opportunity for the reappraisal of regulatory approaches across multiple domains and exposed the need for regulatory models better aligned to a less mediated, more decentralized world. COVID-19 is a global tragedy, but – given that it has happened – it should be used as a learning experience to re-imagine a better, more socially, and environmentally responsible future.

Keywords: COVID-19, Coronavirus, Policy Response, Higher-tech Education

JEL Classification: G18, I1, I2

Suggested Citation

Fenwick, Mark and McCahery, Joseph A. and Vermeulen, Erik P.M., Will the World Ever Be the Same after COVID-19? Two Lessons from the First Global Crisis of a Digital Age (July 24, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3660078 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3660078

Mark Fenwick

Kyushu University - Graduate School of Law ( email )

744 Motooka, Nishi-ku,
Fukuoka, Fukuoka 819-0395
Japan

Joseph A. McCahery

Tilburg University - School of Law; European Banking Center (EBC) ( email )

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands
+31-(0)13-466-2306 (Phone)
+31-(0)13-466-2323 (Fax)

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC)

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://www.ecgi.org

Erik P.M. Vermeulen (Contact Author)

Tilburg University - Department of Business Law ( email )

Signify (formerly known as Philips Lighting) - Legal Department ( email )

Amstelplein 2
Amsterdam
Netherlands

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC)

Warandelaan 2
Tilburg, 5000 LE
Netherlands

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI) ( email )

c/o the Royal Academies of Belgium
Rue Ducale 1 Hertogsstraat
1000 Brussels
Belgium

Kyushu University - Graduate School of Law ( email )

6-19-1, Hakozaki, Higashiku
Fukuoka, 812-8581
Japan

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