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Listed author(s):
  • Kenneth Carlaw
  • Les Oxley
  • Paul Walker
  • David Thorns
  • Michael Nuth

This paper explores the debates surrounding whether or not we have now moved into a new knowledge economy and/or knowledge society and if so whether this shift is as significant and as far reaching as the industrial revolution. In this possible transformation the place of information communications technologies has been crucial. Debate has occurred across both economics and sociology with differing emphases as is shown in the ranges of definitions that we review in the paper. One consistent factor is the lack of clarity and consistency between them both within and across the disciplines. In order to explore the issues that the debates raises in a more grounded way, the paper explores them in relation to intellectual property (IP) and the intellectual commons in the process of innovation, growth and economic development. The paper is developed through an analysis first of the industrial revolution and the role within this of uncertainty, technologies, complementarities and elective affinities and the way IP was protected and controlled through patents, secrecy, being first to the market and copyright. The second part of the paper examines definitions of the knowledge economy and society and the role within these of information communication technologies in order to explore whether the ways that IP is protected and controlled have changed. In the debate about the 'knowledge economy and society' the role of innovation via human capital with a greater reliance on intellectual capabilities has been emphasized. The role of IP thus remains central but is now challenged by the rise of new forms of communication, which make its protection harder and move much of the concern with respect to regulation to a global rather than national and local level. Copyright 2006 The Authors Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Economic Surveys.

Volume (Year): 20 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 633-690

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Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:20:y:2006:i:4:p:633-690
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