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Data, information and knowledge: have we got it right?


  • Max Boisot


  • Agustí Canals



Economists make the unarticulated assumption that information is something that stands apart from and is independent of the processor of information and its internal characteristics. We argue that they need to revisit the distinctions they have drawn between data, information, and knowledge. Some associate information with data, and others associate information with knowledge. But since none of them readily conflates data with knowledge, this suggests too loose a conceptualisation of the term ‘information’. We argue that the difference between data, information, and knowledge is in fact crucial. Information theory and the physics of information provide us with useful insights with which to build an economics of information appropriate to the needs of the emerging information economy. Copyright Springer-Verlag Berlin/Heidelberg 2004

Suggested Citation

  • Max Boisot & Agustí Canals, 2004. "Data, information and knowledge: have we got it right?," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 43-67, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:joevec:v:14:y:2004:i:1:p:43-67 DOI: 10.1007/s00191-003-0181-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dale W. Jorgenson, 1996. "Investment - Vol. 1: Capital Theory and Investment Behavior," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262100568, January.
    2. Richard J. Herrnstein & Drazen Prelec, 1991. "Melioration: A Theory of Distributed Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 137-156, Summer.
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    Cited by:

    1. Don Lamberton, 2004. "The Knowledge Economy: Joel Mokyr, The Gifts of Athena: Historical Origins of the Knowledge Economy, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2002," Agenda - A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics, vol. 11(4), pages 363-366.
    2. Amandine Pascal & Catherine Thomas & Georges Romme, 2009. "Méthodologie de « Design Collaboratif » : une approche intégrative," Post-Print halshs-00374980, HAL.
    3. Child, John & Hsieh, Linda H.Y., 2014. "Decision mode, information and network attachment in the internationalization of SMEs: A configurational and contingency analysis," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 598-610.
    4. Guinevere Nell, 2010. "Competition as market progress: An Austrian rationale for agent-based modeling," The Review of Austrian Economics, Springer;Society for the Development of Austrian Economics, vol. 23(2), pages 127-145, June.
    5. Goodridge, PR & Haskel, J, 2015. "How much is UK business investing in big data?," Working Papers 25159, Imperial College, London, Imperial College Business School.
    6. Mohajan, Haradhan, 2017. "The Impact of Knowledge Management Models for the Development of Organizations," MPRA Paper 83089, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 02 Feb 2017.


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