Edited by Philip Cooke and Andrea Piccaluga
Chapter 12: The 'knowledge economy': a critical view
12. The ‘knowledge economy’: a critical view Martin Sokol 1. INTRODUCTION The last decade has seen a remarkable ampliﬁcation of voices within urban and regional studies literature that places information, knowledge, learning, technology, innovation and institutions at the forefront of their conceptual framework (see Malecki, 2000, for a recent review). Powerful concepts such as ‘intelligent region’ (Cooke and Morgan, 1994), ‘learning region’ (Florida, 1995; Asheim, 1996; Morgan, 1997; Boekema et al., 2000), ‘innovative cluster’ (Porter, 1990; OECD, 2001), ‘informational city’ (Castells, 1989), ‘competitive city’ (Simmie, 2002) or ‘knowledge-based city’ (Simmie and Lever, 2002) have proliferated and dominated urban and regional debate. At the heart of these concepts lies a conviction that knowledge is now the fundamental economic resource, and learning is the most important economic process (Lundvall and Johnson, 1994). More broadly, there is widespread acceptance that society and economy are being transformed into some sort of ‘information society’ or ‘knowledge-driven economy’ (Castells, 1996; Giddens, 2000, Leadbeater, 2000; Cooke, 2002). Some commentators go as far as to suggest that the new society emerging from this transformation could be ‘post-capitalist’ (Drucker, 1993; Leadbeater, 2000; but see also Hodgson, 1999). This, in turn, raises the hopes that within such a society, the old socio-spatial divisions and contradictions of industrial capitalism will fade away as the emerging new ‘knowledge age’ sets in. Indeed some optimistic voices in economic geography suggest that the new ‘knowledge age’ offers better prospects for more balanced social and regional development. Morgan (1997), for instance, has argued that...
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