Innovation, Growth and Social Cohesion

Innovation, Growth and Social Cohesion

The Danish Model

New Horizons in the Economics of Innovation series

Bengt-Åke Lundvall

Written by the scholar who, together with Chris Freeman, first introduced the concept of the innovation system, this book brings the literature an important step forward. Based upon extraordinarily rich empirical material, it shows how and why competence building and innovation are crucial for economic growth and competitiveness in the current era. It also provides a case study of a small, very successful European economy combining wealth creation with social cohesion.

Chapter 7: The Learning Economy

Bengt-Åke Lundvall

Subjects: economics and finance, economics of innovation, innovation and technology, economics of innovation, innovation policy


There is growing attention to the importance of knowledge for economic development internationally as well as in Denmark (Gibbons et al. 1994). In November 1994 the OECD organized its first international conference about the knowledge-based economy. It took place in Copenhagen, and the Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen gave the opening statement (see Foray and Lundvall 1996). In 1998 the National Council for Competence produced a report that aims to provide a perspective on the Danish economy in which knowledge and knowledge creation are at the very centre (Mandag Morgen 1998). There is still, however, a considerable gap between the interest being shown in the role of knowledge and learning and the analytical understanding of the area. The concept of the ‘learning economy’ and the analysis it leads to are attempts toward filling this gap (OECD 2000b). To understand the role of the national innovation system, it is necessary to attain a better understanding of knowledge and learning as well as of the way in which knowledge and learning interact with economic development. By way of introduction we specify various types of knowledge and their respective importance to economic development. At the end of this chapter, we shall illustrate the proposed theses about the learning economy with data collected in connection with the DISKO project. KNOWLEDGE AS INFORMATION Modern information technology has resulted in the current situation, in which it is extremely cheap to send large amounts of information over great distances. For those with access to the necessary...

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