El auge de la economía austera

PALO ALTO – En un ensayo famoso de 1937, el economista, Ronald Coase, argumentaba que la organización piramidal de las economías occidentales, donde unos cuantos productores están en la cima y millones de consumidores pasivos están en la base, se debe a la existencia de costos de transacción –los costos intangibles asociados con la búsqueda, negociación, toma de decisiones y aplicación. Sin embargo, como Internet, las tecnologías móviles y las redes sociales están eliminando casi por completo dichos costos en muchos sectores, a esta estructura económica no le queda más remedio que cambiar.

En efecto, en los Estados Unidos y en toda Europa, nuevos ecosistemas de valor dirigidos por consumidores están poniendo en entredicho las cadenas de valor de integración vertical controladas por grandes compañías, pues en estos nuevos ecosistemas se permite a los consumidores diseñar, construir, comercializar, distribuir y comerciar bienes y servicios entre sí, lo que elimina la necesidad de intermediarios. Este enfoque de abajo hacia arriba de creación de valor existe debido a redes horizontales (o de igual a igual), así como a plataformas  hágalo usted mismo (DIY, por sus siglas en inglés), que componen las bases de la economía “austera”.

Hay dos factores que están estimulando el crecimiento de la economía austera: una prolongada crisis financiera que ha debilitado el poder adquisitivo de los consumidores de clase media en Occidente, y el creciente sentido de responsabilidad ambiental de dichos consumidores. Ávidos por ahorrar dinero y minimizar su impacto ecológico, los consumidores occidentales están renunciando a la propiedad individual a favor de un acceso compartido a productos y servicios.

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