Opportunities for and Constraints on the Transformation Into a Knowledge-Based Economy: A Critical Analysis of Initiatives in Turkey

Opportunities for and Constraints on the Transformation Into a Knowledge-Based Economy: A Critical Analysis of Initiatives in Turkey

Zafer Kıyan (Ankara University, Turkey) and Hakan Yüksel (Independent Researcher, Turkey)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3734-2.ch008
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As information and communication technologies (ICTs) change economic and social activities creating a new economic paradigm based on the production and processing of knowledge, all aspects of human life are being transformed, including cities people live in. All around the world, countries are trying to adopt this new paradigm referred to as a knowledge-based economy (KBE) and organize their cities to possess a more competitive position in this new context. Turkey is one of these countries wishing to build KBE. The chapter analyzes Turkish efforts in building KBE and organizing its cities in this respect. It emphasizes that Turkey once had an important advantage in building KBE due to its developed telecommunication industry that offered the material infrastructure of KBE but lost this technological capacity owing to the implementation of inappropriate strategies. Turkey also conceptualizes KBE in such a narrow sense that leads to the adoption of other wrong policies effecting the country's economy, society, and cities.
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In contemporary societies, the pace and scale of change are astonishing. Rapidly developing information and communication technologies (ICTs) have a significant effect on the social change in that they transform the conduct of economic and social activities in many ways. These technologies, making it possible to instantly transmit and process information and knowledge across the world, paves the way for new production patterns and means of social interaction. An important aspect of the change is the differentiation of development and urbanization paradigms due to the transformation in economies and societies. The Industrial Revolution brought about changes in production and social interaction through innovations in communication and technology, which subsequently initiated the growth of large metropolitan cities. This echoes the current development paradigm based on the production and process of knowledge by means of ICTs, which lead to the large-scale changes on the way people live.

This chapter explores Turkish efforts to implement the new development paradigm and plan cities within this framework. First, it examines how, after decades of development, Turkey lost its telecommunication technology production capacity due to the adoption and implementation of market-oriented neoliberal policies in the 1990s, abandoning State led protectionist policies. This investigation is especially important given that telecommunication constitutes the material infrastructure of the new paradigm. Such an examination is highly relevant for all developing countries wishing to establish the new development paradigm since it demonstrates that the dominant policies at international level may be in conflict with national aims.

The chapter also reveals that the narrow scope of Turkey’s conceptualization of the new development paradigm and the policies generated from this perspective are far from fulfilling the anticipated changes. Another focus of this chapter is that this narrow conceptualization obstructs the efforts to build sustainable cities with better living conditions.

The new paradigm has been investigated widely in the literature using different concepts such as information society, knowledge society, knowledge economy, knowledge-based economy or new economy. All these concepts refer to the central role of producing and processing knowledge in conducting economic and social activities in developed countries as the result of the large-scale transformations since the 1970s; however, each emphasizes a different aspect of the process. In this chapter, the new paradigm is explored using the concept of knowledge-based economy (KBE) because it has a strong emphasis on the role of knowledge in socio-economic and urban development. Furthermore, KBE is more useful in understanding the new orientation in urbanization efforts that stresses the importance of knowledge for cities.

According to the OECD (1996), KBEs are “economies which are directly based on the production, distribution and use of knowledge and information” (p. 7). It would be wrong to assume that the concept does not refer to a complete transformation. In fact, KBE is an umbrella term (Madanipour, 2011, p. 207) and contains many other aspects, such as knowledge management and knowledge-based development (Ergazakis, Metaxiotis & Psarras, 2006). Another important aspect of KBE is knowledge-based urban development, which stresses the impact of the transformation on the development of cities (Yigitcanlar, Velibeyoglu & Martinez-Fernandez, 2008). In this respect, KBE opens possibilities for making investigations within the framework of the concept of knowledge city (KC), as will be explained in this chapter. Though Turkish policies for KBE do not emphasize the transformation into KCs, this has been adopted as a strategic aim in many countries around the world.

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