The anatomy of the knowledge economy

Cerfonteyn, Henk (2000-12)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: A major trend from an information era towards a knowledge economy is currently being experienced, which can be ascribed to the growing importance of knowledge in various countries. The anatomy of the knowledge economy concerns an overall view from the perspective of the organisation. The knowledge economy is analysed in terms of what it involves, its effects on the workplace, the role of information and communication technology (lCT), and emergent key ethical issues. Production and exploitation of knowledge will become the main source of wealth in the knowledge economy. Knowledge can be regarded as value-added to data and information that can be located in organisations either explicitly or tacitly. Tacit knowledge is most prevalent and underutilised form in organisations, and can be exploited to its full extent in the form of intellectual property. A printing metaphor is used to illustrate the extent to which knowledge can become embedded in products, thus increasing intangibility levels within products. Knowledge, as a strategic asset for any organisation, can be generated by innovation and dissemination processes. Knowledge also results in more customised high-valued goods, for which clients are willing to pay more. In facilitating a favourable environment for knowledge development in organisations, governments have an essential role to play. This role includes establishing cultures of entrepreneurship, innovativeness and competitiveness through education, training and funding of appropriate organisations. In order to reap substantial benefits from the knowledge economy, various countries are transforming their economies accordingly. The United States of America, Sweden, Finland and Singapore are currently leading in this respect while others like Canada and the United Kingdom have committed themselves to the new economic order. The measurement of knowledge within organisations has not yet been resolved due to difficulties in isolating the value of knowledge at various levels within the organisation. The escalation and importance of information and knowledge in work processes have resulted in the emergence of knowledge workers at the expense of workers involved with the physical dimension of work. By defeating spatial and temporal limitations through virtualisation, ICT will offer organisations and their workers the necessary agility for survival in the knowledge economy. In response, management will have to change organisational structures and increase innovativeness. Technology, as in the past, will increase capabilities of people even more, for example in the form of supporting tools, automation, controlling devices and connectivity. ICT, being the core technology in the knowledge economy, will have a major role to play relating to knowledge development within organisations by means of the knowledge value chain. The Internet will become an important technology in the knowledge economy. Concerns about unethical and criminal practices in knowledge economies centre around the violation of rights in terms of privacy and freedom, protection of property rights, accountability and liability, reliability of systems and quality of life. To sustain a prosperous knowledge economy and just society will involve innovative stakeholders who participate actively in achieving and maintaining goals of common interest.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Tans vind 'n belangrike neiging vanaf 'n inligtingsera na 'n kennisekonomie plaas, wat toegeskryf kan word aan die toenemende belangrikheid van kennis in verskeie lande. Die anatomie van 'n kennisekonomie behels 'n oorsig vanaf die perspektief van die organisasie. Die kennisekonomie word beskou in terme van wat dit impliseer, die effek op die werksplek, die rol van inligtings- en kommunikasietegnologie (lKT), en opkomende etiese aangeleenthede. Die produksie en benutting van kennis gaan die belangrikste bron van welvaart word in die kennisekonomie. Die verskynsel van kennis kan beskou word as waarde toevoeging tot data en inligting en is sigbaar in organisasies in die vorm van óf eksplisiete óf verskuilde kennis. Verskuilde kennis is die mees algemene, maar onbenutte vorm in organisasies kan tot sy volle potensiaal ontgin word as intellektuele eiendom. Die drukkuns word as metafoor gebruik om aan te dui tot watter mate kennis deel geword het van produkte, wat lei tot verhoging van die nie-tasbare komponent in produkte. Kennis, as 'n strategiese bate vir enige organisasie, word geskep deur middel van innovering en verspreiding. Kennis bied ook hoë-waarde aan goedere tot so 'n mate dat kliënte bereid is om daarvoor meer te betaal. Om 'n gunstige omgewing vir kennis ontwikkeling te verkry, het regerings 'n belangrike funksie met betrekking tot die daarstelling van kulture wat betref entrepreneurskap, innovering en mededingendheid deur middel van opvoeding, opleiding en befondsing van toepaslike organisasies. Verskeie land is besig om hul ekonomieë te omvorm om die beduidende voordele wat die kennisekonomie bied, te benut. Die Verenigde State van Amerika, Swede, Finland en Singapoer is tans leiers in dié verband, terwyl Kanada en die Verenigde Koninkryk hulself ook tot die nuwe ekonomie verbind het. Om kennis binne organisasies in finansiële terme te meet is nog nie uitgepluis nie, vanweë die probleme om waarde van kennis by verskeie vlakke binne die organisasie te isoleer. Die toename en belangrikheid van inligting en kennis in die werksplek het gelei tot die verskynsel van kenniswerkers, ten koste van diegene betrokke met die fisiese sy van werk. Deurdat die beperkinge van ruimte en tyd deur middel van virtualisasie opgehef is, maak IKT organisasies en sy werkers meer rats en lenig - eienskappe wat vir oorlewing in die kennisekonomie vereis word. In reaksie hierop, sal bestuur hul organisasie strukture moet aanpas en innoveringsvermoë moet opknap. Tegnologie, soos altyd, sal vermoëns van mense verder verhoog, byvoorbeeld in die vorm van ondersteunende hulpmiddele, outomatisering, beheermiddele en skakeling. IKT, as kerntegnologie in die kennisekonomie, gaan 'n sentrale posisie inneem in die ontwikkeling van kennis in organsasies met behulp van die kennis waardeketting. Die Internet gaan 'n sleutel tegnologie in die kennisekonomie word. Kommer oor onetiese en kriminele praktyke in die kennisekonomie hou verband met die oorskryding van regte in terme van privaatheid en vryheid, beskerming van eiendomsreg, aanspreeklikheid en verantwoordelikheid, betroubaarheid van IKT stelsels en lewensgehalte. Om 'n voorspoedige kennisekonomie terselfdertyd met 'n regverdige gemeenskap te handhaaf, beteken dat innoverende rolspelers aktief sal moet deelneem om gemeenskaplike doelwitte na te streef en te verseker.

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