Chapter 10: The Making and Recontextualizing of ‘Competitiveness’ as a Knowledge Brand Across Different Sites and Scales
Ngai-Ling Sum INTRODUCTION Research on brands and branding is emerging as an important new area in interdisciplinary studies. Studies range from commercial brands to cities (and nations) as brands and objects of branding. With the growing demand for fast strategy and policy in a globalized world marked by space-time compression and acceleration, knowledge is increasingly subject to commodification – justified in many cases in the name of the knowledge-based economy, knowledge-intensive business services, and intellectual property rights. In this context some forms of knowledge are branded and marketed for profit through consultancy in the fields of business strategy and public policy. Such brands are not confined to the scientific or intellectual ‘mainstream’, however defined; knowledge and ideas are also branded and marketed for profit at the margins of the mainstream and beyond – with more successful cases sometimes being ‘mainstreamed’ in due course. In this regard, if we accept that the primary purpose of knowledge brands is to maximize profit or revenues from the sale of knowledge-intensive services, it would be misleading to apply this notion to the activities of public intellectuals (e.g. Noam Chomsky, Umberto Eco) in seeking intellectual influence or to the mobilization of ‘knowledge from below’ (e.g. Paulo Freire, Italian automomists) to challenge political authority, professional expertise, or commodified knowledge. It is interesting to note here the self-reflection by Naomi Klein in the introduction to the tenth anniversary edition of No Logo (2010) on whether her critique of branding has become a brand in its own right – an idea...
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