Governing Transformative Technological Innovation

Governing Transformative Technological Innovation

Who’s in Charge?

Peter W.B. Phillips

New technologies often appear to be beyond the control of any existing governing systems. This is especially true for transformative technologies such as information technologies, biotechnologies and nanotechnologies. Peter Phillips examines in this book the deep governing structures of transformative technology and innovation in an effort to identify which actors can be expected to act when, under what conditions and to what effect. He analyzes the life cycles of an array of examples where converging technologies have created transformations and supervisory challenges.

Chapter 9: Governing Knowledge

Peter W.B. Phillips

Subjects: innovation and technology, innovation policy, politics and public policy, public policy


Knowledge is power Francis Bacon INTRODUCTION Isaac Newton wrote: ‘If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’ In his day, finding the giants on whose shoulders to stand must have been somewhat easier, as there were only a few sites of higher learning and a relatively small number of thinkers, scholars and inventors. With the advent of the earned doctorate in the nineteenth century and the sharp escalation in university enrollment and public and private research in the past century, there are now literally millions of scholars and practitioners who may be the source of new knowledge and ideas. This profusion of effort makes it quite difficult to catalogue, assess, integrate and disseminate the mass of knowledge that we know or might want to know. There are many actors involved in governing the normalization of emerging knowledge in the natural sciences, applied technologies and social sciences, making it increasingly difficult to establish what is known, what is new, where it is going and how it might be applied safely and efficaciously. Sheila Jasanoff suggests that knowledge is ultimately ‘co-produced’ by many constantly intertwined actors at four stages: emergence, contestation, standardization and enculturation.1 Two main types of epistemic-based knowledge are particularly challenging. Know-why knowledge about the physical and social world around us – largely embodied in academic treatises – and tacit, know-how knowledge – embodied in individual scholars and practitioners – provide the foundation for what we know. As discussed in Chapter 8, both types of knowledge involve codifying...

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