Edited by Harry Bloch
Chapter 2: Institutions and the Knowledge Economy
2. Institutions and the knowledge economy* J. Stan Metcalfe Because different people can develop different skills, a knowledge rich society must be an ecology of specialists; knowledge is distributed within each human brain, within each organisation and within the economic and social system; and being distributed it can grow, provided that it is sufficiently coordinated to support increasing interdependencies. (Loasby 1999, p. 130) We can save men from hunger or misery or injustice, we can rescue men from slavery or imprisonment and do good . . . but any study of society shows that every solution creates a new situation which breeds its own new needs and problems. (Berlin, 1991, p. 14) We are active, we are constantly testing things out, constantly working with the method of trial and error. (Popper, 1987, p. 53) INTRODUCTION It is commonplace in modern times to claim not only that we live in a knowledge economy but also that knowledge is the font of human prosperity and its many corollaries. Yet every economy, always and everywhere, is a knowledge economy; for social systems, and economies are social systems, could not be arranged otherwise. What meaning can we assign to this current fashion for the knowledgeable economy? Is this a matter of new kinds of knowledge or of new ways of creating knowledge? Is it instead a misnomer arising from the confusion between information and knowledge? Could it be that the tenor of modern times has been to transform the manner in which information is generated, and stored...
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