the growth of knowledge and the information sector

Schmoranz, Ingo and Wall, Stuart (June 1983) the growth of knowledge and the information sector. Forschungsberichte / Research Memoranda 185


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abstract (introduction): the seventies launched a development which, no doubt, will affect the social relations of future generations. the slogans of "service economy" (fuchs 1968, gershuny 1978), "electronic era or millenium" (evans 1979, robins, webster 1980), "third industrial revolution", (balkhausen 1978), "post-industrial society" (bell 1973, 1977, 1978, channon 1978), "information society" (parker 1976, porat 1977, 1978, barron, curnow 1979) and "leisure society" (jenkins, sherman 1979) ,emphasise at least two phenomena; the growing importance of knowledge and information in future societies and the creation of a new "information technology", without which the transition towards an information society would certainly be severely retarded. information (and hence knowledge) is a necessary condition for the existence of societies. some authors have treated it as a resource, like the classical resources of capital, labour and energy (wilkinson 1980). the question then arises as to how present and future societies differ from those of the past. it will certainly not be in the existence of information or knowledge per se, but rather the different qualitative and quantitative dimensions of this resource. in the past, the first industrial revolution was characterized by physical human power being substituted by non human power, namely machines. the "third industrial revolution" is characterized by the progressive substitution of certain intellectual processes by information machines (lenk 1982). this is the new qualitative dimension which the economics of information must address. how then do we measure the contribution of information activities to the national economy, when the marginal productivity concept becomes still more difficult to apply? how do we value knowledge with its public good properties? it is to such questions that we turn in part ii. the quantitative dimension relates to the increasingly pervasive role of information technology within society (mosco, herman 1980). the "electronic millenium" "represents the convergence or computer or rather information processing, technologies and telecommunications technologies on the basis of an enabling micro-electronics infrastructure" (robins, webster 1980). one of the factors underlying the rapid diffusion of this technology is the potential of mass production in the information field and to a lesser extent in knowledge production. microchips, are in this sense in the same position as the steam engine and the electric machine (king 1982). the new technology cannot be detached from its broad social context. transition to an information based economy is in essence a social process, bringing dynamic forces to bear on the established social structure. any analysis which concentrated only on the economic aspects of this process would be incomplete and by omitting socio-economic interactions must yield biased results. the following paper intends to throw light on some of the main elements in this process. part i deals with the more theoretical aspects of this transition towards a knowledge based society. part ii deals with the statistical approaches which have been used to measure this transition, and finally part iii looks at policy options.;

Item Type: IHS Series
Status: Published
Date Deposited: 26 Sep 2014 10:34
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2016 14:07

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