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Edited by Cristiano Antonelli
Chapter 6: Knowledge, Complexity and Networks
6 Knowledge, complexity and networks* Pier Paolo Saviotti 1. INTRODUCTION Knowledge is becoming the most important factor determining the competitiveness of firms and the growth of countries. However, do we know what knowledge is? Can we represent it in such a way that it can be measured and modelled as a component of economic processes? The limited understanding that economists have so far acquired of knowledge comes mostly from studies of innovation, that is, of processes which in order to give rise to new artefacts use and create knowledge. The tools which economists of innovation have developed rely on indicators of innovation, most of which are also indicators of knowledge. Publications and patents are traces of knowledge which have been left by processes of knowledge creation and utilization. However, while both publications and patents are related to knowledge we do not know exactly how. In order to make progress in the construction of an economics of knowledge we need to find an adequate, sufficiently general and operationally useful, definition of knowledge. Such a definition should allow us to detect units of knowledge which can be observed and used to measure and model processes of knowledge creation and utilization. In what follows a definition of knowledge which is both general and operationally useful will be given and a representation of the knowledge base of firms will be derived from it. Furthermore, the dynamics of knowledge will be interpreted using a number of complexity based concepts. In what follows we outline a...
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