The Call for Transformational Governance in the Knowledge Economy

The Call for Transformational Governance in the Knowledge Economy

Benjamin Yeo (Milken Institute, USA) and Eileen Trauth (Pennsylvania State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-390-6.ch015
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Increasingly, regions are developing initiatives towards building a knowledge economy. This change is also bringing about a transition from more static forms of information technology (IT) work to more dynamic forms of knowledge work. It follows that knowledge industries will involve more multifaceted forms of collaboration among workers and organizations using IT. In view of the complexities in knowledge work, this chapter develops an argument for a transformational approach to governance, whereby policymakers create mechanisms to continuously evaluate local social contexts so as to continuously adapt policies to unique local conditions. This argument is based on the results of three markedly different case studies of knowledge economies: San Joaquin Valley, California; Ennis, Ireland; and Singapore. These data are used to show how local and unique social conditions influence the sustainability of a knowledge economy. Given the unique characteristics of local contexts, a transformational approach represents one useful approach to governance.
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A key characteristic of the new global economy is its shift from a tangible asset-based economy to one that is reliant on intangible knowledge-based assets that depend heavily on human capital (DeVol et al., 2004). Here, knowledge-based inputs replace material inputs as the key productive forces in an economy (Stehr, 2002). These inputs are comprised primarily of human capital and innovation. The most technologically advanced economies are knowledge-based, where information and knowledge are direct productive forces that drive the economy.

The knowledge economy has resulted from the rise in knowledge-intensive work amidst increased globalization (Houghton & Sheehan Peter, 2000). Hence, governments are devoting increasing efforts to the development of knowledge-based industries, whose value chains are driven by human capital, innovation and technologies. In this chapter we refer to knowledge-based activities as knowledge work.

The knowledge economy is characterized by industries that engage in knowledge work. However, as we argue in subsequent sections, knowledge is inherently dynamic and abstract in nature. It differs from information, which is more static and easier to define. Hence, governance of knowledge work is more complex than information work.

The objective of this chapter is to develop an argument for a transformational approach to governance of a knowledge economy. We review literature on the knowledge economy and investigate regional efforts to develop a knowledge economy. We utilize findings from empirical investigations of three regions: San Joaquin Valley, California; Ennis, Ireland; and Singapore, to develop an argument for the importance of a transformational perspective towards governance at the regional level. Such policies relate to business activities that influence the development of continuous innovation. In this chapter, we discuss the call for a transformational perspective in governance to be relevant to the continuous innovation-driven knowledge economy.

This chapter is structured into four main sections. We begin by defining the concepts of governance, knowledge work, and the knowledge economy. We then present our theoretical framework, the case study method employed, and overviews of the three case study sites. In the next section, Findings, we discuss the key themes of the case studies drawn from the empirical relevant findings. In the final section, we consider the need for a transformational perspective to ensure successful governance of knowledge industries in a knowledge economy.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Governance: The capacity of the government to effectively formulate and implement sound policies

Case Study: A qualitative research method that involves an in-depth approach to a single research problem. The goal of a case study is to understand why or how different phenomena occur, or can occur.

Knowledge Economy: An economy made up of knowledge industries. These are industries that engage in continuous innovation.

Information: Is categorized into five types: facts, concepts, processes, procedures, and principles. These are termed as artifacts.

Transformational Governance: The capacity and capability to develop initiatives that can keep up with continuously changing social contexts.

Knowledge: The ability to apply relevant information to solve problems effectively

Electronic Governance: The use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to facilitate government’s policies and interactions

Knowledge Work: Defined as continuous innovation.

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