Innovation and Social Learning: Institutional Adaptation in an Era of Technological Change

Innovation and Social Learning: Institutional Adaptation in an Era of Technological Change

Innovation and Social Learning: Institutional Adaptation in an Era of Technological Change

Innovation and Social Learning: Institutional Adaptation in an Era of Technological Change

Synopsis

The ability of societies to manage the current transition to an innovation-driven learning economy is determined by the capacity of existing institutions to facilitate the changes underway. Individual and social learning dynamics are critical to the innovation process and essential for developing and maintaining a sustainable competitive advantage. The crucial issue is: how well suited are the institutions of a region, nation or international regime to the task of coping with the dramatic changes currently underway in the global economy?

Excerpt

We live in an era of rapid economic and technological change marked by a high degree of uncertainty. Over the past ten years, we have witnessed the shift from a steep recession at the beginning of the decade through two international financial crises to the recent phase of hyper growth, marked by higher levels of employment, significant gains in productivity and a rise in consumer spending, especially in North America. So strong has been the economic performance of the past few years that some commentators have hailed it as the return to a ‘golden age’, similar to that which marked the three decades following the Second World War – despite the economic slowdown beginning in late 2000. This shift is attributed to two underlying developments: the first is the trend towards globalization which is increasing the linkages between Europe, North America and East Asia in terms of investment, trade, research and development; and the second is the emergence of an integrated set of information and communication technologies linking diverse communications and entertainment media together in digital form. Together, these trends are reshaping the economies of the industrial and industrializing economies and changing much of the accepted wisdom about how they operate.

Despite this nascent optimism about the future, many still fear a return to the conditions of slower growth and higher unemployment of the preceding decades. Even in those countries currently enjoying their new-found prosperity, considerable uncertainty remains about how long it will last and concerns are being raised about the inequitable distribution of gains and losses from the transition to this ‘new economy’. the us government has drawn attention to the emergence of a growing ‘digital divide’ within its society between those who enjoy access to, and the benefits of, the new technologies, and those who face exclusion from their share of the benefits (US Dept. of Commerce, 2000). in Europe, similar concerns have been expressed about the dangers of a Europe moving at two speeds – in both a social and a geographic . . .

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