Reviewed by Sep 30, 2020| Updated on
A paradigm shift is a significant change in the principles and methods of how something works or is accomplished. A paradigm shift can occur in a number of contexts. Quite frequently, they happen when new technology is implemented that fundamentally alters a good or service's development cycle.
For example, the assembly line produced a major paradigm change, not just in the automotive industry but also in all other manufacturing sectors.
In certain cases, a paradigm shift may involve the removal or formation of whole divisions, and the procurement of millions or even billions of dollars of new equipment while the old equipment is being sold or recycled.
In the past hundred years, paradigm shifts have become even more common, as many social and economic structures have been changed by the industrial revolution. As our pace of technological development rises, this cycle is likely to become much more widespread in the future.
In the world of science, paradigm changes frequently arise from researchers working on the fringe. Their divisive inquiries are viewed as an unfounded or dead end. While scepticism and inquiry are integral parts of the scientific process, a scientist sometimes has a realisation which leads to a shift in paradigms. Often the weight of scientific and public opposition to the new paradigm may cause ridicule.
In a wide variety of other contexts, paradigm changes occur to define a fundamental change in pattern, modality, or perception. While not universally accepted, if a fringe science is proved to rest on a sound basis, momentum builds steadily against the existing paradigm. Paradigms are important for defining how we perceive reality. As such, all are subject to the limitations and distortions that their socially shaped existence creates.
A paradigm shift in the business world is also a change in the understanding of how things are to be done, made, or thought about. Responding to key paradigm changes has a lot to do with a company's long-term success.
The Internet, for example, has created a paradigm shift in the way business is carried out. Email and scanning replaced fax and postal services. Securities orders can now be issued directly via the Internet by the consumer, and are often executed in seconds.