Systems of innovation for development in the knowledge era: an introduction
Lastres, Helena M. M.
Cassiolato, José Eduardo
Maciel, Maria Lucia
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At the turn of the millennium, as radical transformations affect the ways we produce, reproduce and organize our very existence, the challenges to social and economic development seem, at times, overwhelming. What is the nature of these transformations? What are the interests and forces orienting them? What are the impacts of these transformations on the productive and innovative capacities of developing countries? How can they best face these challenges? What are the policy implications? The aim of this book is to address these questions. In what has come to be known as the ‘Knowledge Era’, the economy is relying on knowledge-based activities much more than ever before. There are at least three, interrelated, main arguments for this: (i) the proportion of labour that handles tangible goods has become smaller than the proportion engaged in the production, distribution and processing of knowledge; (ii) the share of codified knowledge and information in the value of many products and services is significantly increasing; (iii) knowledge-intensive activities are rapidly growing. Obviously, information and knowledge have always been important in human history. But today’s knowledge is more and more codified and the resulting information is more and more incorporated into goods and services. The development and diffusion of a new techno-economic paradigm, centred on information and communications technologies (ICT), have accelerated and deepened both the codification of knowledge and the spread of information. The extent, the velocity and the intensity of these changes have provoked, on one hand, an unbridled and uncritical enthusiasm with the multiple possibilities apparently available to all and, on the other, considerable perplexity as to how this transition actually affects social, economic and political processes and the best ways to deal with it. As we shall see, the nature of the transformations – and, therefore, of the challenges – is not always what it seems or is said to be. The first task, then, is to explore the reality behind the myths and to understand the real processes beyond the appearances and the rhetoric.