Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy
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Complexity, Institutions and Public Policy

Agile Decision-Making in a Turbulent World

Graham Room

Graham Room argues that conventional approaches to the conceptualisation and measurement of social and economic change are unsatisfactory. As a result, researchers are ill-equipped to offer policy advice. This book offers a new analytical approach, combining complexity science and institutionalism.
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Chapter 16: Social Dynamics of the Knowledge Economy

Graham Room


16.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter turns to the second area of policy research, by reference to which Chapter 1 called for a more adequate conceptualisation of dynamic change. This was concerned with the policy indicators being used by governments and by the EU, OECD and United Nations (UN), to track the development of the new ‘knowledge economy’, ranging across its social, technological, economic and organisational aspects (Room, 2005a). In Chapter 14, when introducing Part 3, we noted that such policy indicators have a dual significance for contemporary policy-making. They reveal the state we are in; and they provide clues as to the trajectories along which we are travelling, the choices and trade-offs that will face us, the thresholds and tipping points of virtuous and vicious change. We first recall the context, both scholarly and political, for indicators of the ‘knowledge economy’. The closing decade of the twentieth century saw widespread claims of economic and social transformation through the development of a knowledge economy. Of course, the very phrase ‘knowledge economy’ is arguably over-simplistic, even trite; all economies involve the application of knowledge and inventiveness. Nevertheless, at least in signifying a shift of emphasis, the phrase has merit. A number of key elements emerged as the focus of academic theorising (see, for example, Rubenson and Schuetze, 2000; Castells, 2001, 2004). These included: ● ● ● ● the role of the new information technologies as a ‘general purpose technology’ pervading all areas of production, distribution, consumption and governance; the growing importance of knowledge as a factor of...

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