The Knowledge Economy as an Early Scenario
Industry and Region Studies
June 1, 2000
INNOVATION MANAGEMENT IN THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY, pp. 29-53, Ben Dankbaar, ed., London: Imperial College Press, 2003
‘The knowledge economy’ is sometimes used as an analytical term, sometimes as a scenario. As an analytical term, the concept allows theoretical integration of observations made in various research areas, e.g. business strategy, innovation, HRM, education, labour market, information technology, and economic policy. As a scenario, the concept extrapolates a specific set of developments observed in these areas, sketches a future in which products and services are delivered by ‘knowledge-intensive’ firms – these firms comprising ‘high competence’ employees – and suggests policies to be designed and measures to be made that are in line with this envisaged future. This scenario, that is largely based on developments observed in technologically advanced branches of industry does not account for the presence of ‘low-tech’ companies and ‘knowledge-contingent’ companies, and tends to ignore the presence of the variety of organizational forms and inter-organizational collaborations that has developed after the demise of Fordism; introduces a ‘high competence’ model of employees without offering adequate suggestions concerning ‘low qualified’ employees; involves the idea of ‘knowledge as a commodity’: malleable, transportable, shareable, replaceable, at the expense of other (e.g. traditional) types of knowledge; fails to pay due attention to the transformation process required to arrive at the future situation of ‘knowledge-intensive’ production.
Recurrent elements in a line of argument in favour of the knowledge economy are that it is unclear what ‘the knowledge economy’ will look like, thus unclear what precisely the factors that may contribute to it, and unclear how to measure and evaluate current developments, but nevertheless, prescriptions can be issued and policies announced that will stimulate the knowledge economy. The paper examines developments and trends that are relied on to justify measures and policies that seek to further the knowledge economy, and gives examples of such measures and policies. It is argued that an early choice for a specific development path that emphasizes technological innovation and high competence goes at the expense of ‘low tech’ companies and ‘low competence’ employees.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: Knowledge Economy, Economic Policy
JEL Classification: A14, B25, D89, H10, O10Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 27, 2010 ; Last revised: May 19, 2010
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