Journal Name: Prometheus, Volume 15, Number 1, April 1997
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: A CRITICAL PERSPECTIVE ON ITS ECONOMIC EFFECTS
By Brigitte Preissl
Information Technology (IT) is commonly seen as the most important motor of growth and economic restructuring in the near future. Visions about massive benefits to be derived from these developments are contrasted by frustration over productivity effects, by uncertainty about impacts on employment, and by concerns about a general 'information overflow' in a global network society. The contradictions between enthusiastic forecasts and much more sober outcomes have given rise to a debate on the potential and danger of IT. The present paper intends to add to this debate. Promises of common IT scenarios will be confronted with problem-oriented and critical approaches. The paper proceeds from an analysis of deficits in the current debates towards the identification of new elements of a critical approach in IT research.
Information technology, information society, critical research, impact assessment
MULTIDISCIPLINARY POLICY RESEARCH-AN AUSTRALIAN EXPERIENCE
By Gabriele Bammer
A brief overview is provided of a project which examined the feasibility of conducting a trial of heroin prescription for dependent heroin users. The processes used in the feasibility study brought together multiple disciplines and interest groups and some detailed examples of how this worked are presented. The paper concludes by drawing out some general strands relating to the strengths of multidisciplinary research generally, guidelines for how to do it and comments on multidisciplinary policy research in particular.
Multidisciplinary, policy research, interest groups, heroin prescription.
NURTURING NATIONAL TALENT: THE AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH COUNCIL'S FELLOWSHIP SCHEME
By Jane Marceau & Hugh Preston
This paper examines the functioning of a Research Fellowship Scheme in Australia and its place in the higher education system. It indicates the educational paths an dearly career track which have led the gifted researchers studied to their elite positions. It indicates how the research strategies of supervisors (Heads of Department and School) affect the placing of Fellows and how the sociological and institutional contexts of the broader education system influence outcomes. It suggests some of the dilemmas faced by policymakers attempting to strengthen the research and higher education systems of small countries with limited resources which want to maintain a national and international science capability.
Higher education, research system, science policy, international research links, international technology transfer, public policy
ECONOMICS AND THE DIFFUSION OF COMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES: JOSEPH SCHUMPETER AND THE SELF-ORGANISATION APPROACH
By John Foster
Economic motivations and economic processes play a key role in the emergence and diffusion of communication and information technologies. The objective of this paper is to offer an economic approach which is better suited to understanding such motivations and processes within an interdisciplinary context than the conventional, equilibrium-oriented, perspective. It is argued that many modern' neoclassical' economists, stressing competition, have little in common with the old 'classical' tradition in economics, which was based on synergies. The ideas of Joseph Schumpeter are highlighted as a distinct alternative to neoclassical economics and viewed from a self-organisational perspective. It is explained that self-organisation in the economic domain is a related, but different, process to that identified by Ilya Prigogine in physio-chemical contexts. In particular, knowledge and informational considerations become central. A modeling strategy that can track self-organisational growth processes and provide an assessment of their structural stability is discussed.
Biological analogy, development, diffusion, dissipative structure, dynamics, evolution, information, irreversibility, knowledge, logistic growth, non-equilibrium process, Schumpeter, self-organisation, uncertainty
THE KNOWLEDGE-BASED ECONOMY: A SISYPHUM MODEL
By Don Lamberton
The current fashionable emphasis on the knowledge-based economy is missing the real significance of the dichotomy between tacit and codified knowledge. A continuing input of tacit knowledge is essential to sustained innovation and growth. Without this, the modern thrust towards codification based on IT can lead to an economy with plenty of processing capacity but no new knowledge to process.
Tacit knowledge, codified knowledge, knowledge-based economy, taxonomy of information
MODELLING THE COEVOLUTION OF COMMUNICATIONS AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC STRUCTURE
By Peter M. Allen
Economic modeling that employs 'the complex systems' approach shows that factors such as communication and diversity are vital to systematic function and evolution. A 'complex systems' model of market evolution is presented and discussed to illustrate these issues.
Self-organisation, evolution, economic modeling, technological change, markets, communication.
COMMUNICATIVE STRATEGIES AND THE EVOLUTION OF ORGANISATIONS FACING THE NEW TURBULENCE: ICTS AS PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES
By Greg Hearn & Abraham Ninan
Traditional organizational structures are currently being challenged by rapid changes in their environments, primarily caused by the introduction of computer and information technology. Successful transition to new patterns of organization which makes sense of the complex meaning of these new environments require both 'creative' (self-organising) and stabilizing (self-referencing) processes. This paper justifies the theoretical importance of considering communication as a necessary response by organizations to non-linear change. The processes by which organizations might accommodate new organizational turbulence and strategies for creating desirable futures within turbulent organizational environments are considered.
Communication, organizational change, organizational learning, organizational communication, information and communication (ICT) and sense making.
SIGNS OF CONVERGENCE? IMAGES OF THE UNIVERSITY IN THE MANAGEMENT OF R&D
By Keith Randle
This paper examines the adoption of university images in a pharmaceutical R&D company, arguing that this may be intended to bring benefits to management. The author finds some irony in this, identifying tendencies within the UK higher education system to draw on the images and the practices of business and commerce in its own management. Drawing on empirical data from interviews at Pharmco, the paper argues that, in practice, the image cannot be sustained and competition in the pharmaceutical sector is leading to a disparity between the projected image and management practice. Management in both types of organization, it concludes, are responding to their respective environments by tightening control.
Pharmaceuticals, management, research, university, scientists, organizational convergence.
PIONEERING STRATEGIES AND SMALL FIRMS, AN AUSTRALIA-UK COMPARISON
By Julian Lowe
An important aspect of strategic choice is whether to be a pioneer or a follower. This issue is especially important for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), potentially disadvantaged by scale in design, production and marketing. However, empirical evidence suggests that, in spite of their size, SMEs may benefit from being pioneers or 'first movers'. Indeed, in some markets being first may be the only way SMEs can compete against larger firms, whose advantages in exploitation may be more scale intensive than in earlier stages of the innovation process.
The UK and Australian economies present an interesting context for a comparison of SME pioneering strategies. The UK market is larger and its relative competitiveness is increased by smaller geographical distance and the ability of the market to support a greater number of firms, both large and small. Such differences in the potential competitiveness of markets might substantially influence the nature of SME strategies and the role of pioneering advantage.
The study reported in this paper examines the strategies of a matched sample of 478 firms in Australia and the UK. Timing of entry models are developed and tested. The different economic contexts, however, provide contrasting explanations of pioneering strategies. Technological turbulence and size of firm appear to be important determinants of strategy in both countries, but are most statistically significant for UK firms. Perceived competitive advantage provides the bulk of explanation of strategic behaviour for Australian firms. The overall UK models perform better statistically, suggesting that there may be more convergence towards some 'norm' for these firms. Overall statistical fit suggests a robust model construction and successful operationalisation f important strategy variables.
Small firms, innovation, strategy, Australia, UK
(This journal is available online: http://www.tandf.co.uk/online.html)
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