Handbook of Knowledge and Economics
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Handbook of Knowledge and Economics

Edited by Richard Arena, Agnès Festré and Nathalie Lazaric

By illuminating the philosophical roots of the various notions of knowledge employed by economists, this Handbook helps to disentangle conceptual and typological issues surrounding the debate on knowledge amongst economists. Wide-ranging in scope, it explores fundamental aspects of the relationship between knowledge and economics – such as the nature of knowledge, knowledge acquisition and knowledge diffusion.
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Chapter 10: Towards a theoretical framework for the generation and utilization of knowledge

Pie Paolo Saviotti


Pier Paolo Saviotti 10.1 INTRODUCTION Modern industrialized societies seem to be evolving towards the knowledgebased society, a society involving growing knowledge intensity. In fact, this is not a new phenomenon. The origin of the knowledge-based society can be found in the second half of the nineteenth century with the advent of the modern university system and with the institutionalization of industrial R&D (Murmann, 2004; Freeman and Soete, 1997). In other words, a knowledge-based society differs from pre-existing ones because it uses knowledge provided by institutions specialized in its creation and diffusion. In spite of the growing importance of knowledge for economic development, we still have a very limited understanding of processes of knowledge creation and utilization. A theoretical structure allowing us to represent, model and measure knowledge is required. This is not to deny that many valuable contributions to this theme have been made. On the contrary, such contributions exist, starting from the pioneering work of Hayek, Machlup, Simon and so on (see in Foray, 2000). Furthermore, most of the literature on innovation covers the same subject, though under a different name. The point to be made here is that knowledge has rarely been studied directly. Usually some phenomena involving or requiring knowledge, such as innovation, have been studied, giving us very important insights into knowledge itself. Yet the studies have somehow remained without proper foundations since an adequate characterization of processes of knowledge generation and utilization was missing. The object of this chapter is precisely to start to...

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