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One Knowledge Base or Many Knowledge Pools?


  • Bengt-Åke Lundvall


It is increasingly realized that knowledge is the most important resource and that learning is the most important process in the economy. Sometimes this is expressed by coining the current era as characterised by a ‘knowledge based economy’. But this concept might be misleading by indicating that there is one common knowledge base on which economic activities can be built. In this paper we argue that it is more appropriate to see the economy as connecting to different ‘pools of knowledge’. The argument is built upon a conceptual framework where we make distinctions between private/public, local/global, individual/collective and tacit/codified knowledge. The purpose is both ‘academic’ and practical. Our analysis demonstrates the limits of a narrowly economic perspective on knowledge and we show that these distinctions have important implications both for innovation policy and for management of innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Bengt-Åke Lundvall, 2006. "One Knowledge Base or Many Knowledge Pools?," DRUID Working Papers 06-08, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:aal:abbswp:06-08

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bengt-ake Lundvall & Bjorn Johnson, 1994. "The Learning Economy," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(2), pages 23-42.
    2. Arrow, Kenneth J, 1994. "Methodological Individualism and Social Knowledge," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 1-9, May.
    3. Jensen, Morten Berg & Johnson, Bjorn & Lorenz, Edward & Lundvall, Bengt Ake, 2007. "Forms of knowledge and modes of innovation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 680-693, June.
    4. Bj–rn Johnson & Edward Lorenz & Bengt-Åke Lundvall, 2002. "Why all this fuss about codified and tacit knowledge?," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 11(2), pages 245-262.
    5. Dominique Foray, 2006. "The Economics of Knowledge," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262562235, July.
    6. Paul A. David & Dominique Foray, "undated". "Economic Fundamentals of the Knowledge Society," Working Papers 02003, Stanford University, Department of Economics.
    7. Romer, Paul M, 1990. "Endogenous Technological Change," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 71-102, October.
    8. Allen, Robert C., 1983. "Collective invention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 1-24, March.
    9. Cowan, R. & Jonard, N., 2003. "The dynamics of collective invention," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(4), pages 513-532, December.
    10. Smith, Adam, 1776. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," History of Economic Thought Books, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, number smith1776.
    11. Cowan, Robin & David, Paul A & Foray, Dominique, 2000. "The Explicit Economics of Knowledge Codification and Tacitness," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(2), pages 211-253, June.
    12. Cowan, Robin, 2001. "Expert systems: aspects of and limitations to the codifiability of knowledge," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(9), pages 1355-1372, December.
    13. Kenneth Arrow, 1962. "Economic Welfare and the Allocation of Resources for Invention," NBER Chapters,in: The Rate and Direction of Inventive Activity: Economic and Social Factors, pages 609-626 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Lazaric, Nathalie & Mangolte, Pierre-Andre & Massue, Marie-Laure, 2003. "Articulation and codification of collective know-how in the steel industry: evidence from blast furnace control in France," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(10), pages 1829-1847, December.
    15. Anthony Arundel & Edward Lorenz & Bengt-Åke Lundvall & Antoine Valeyre, 2007. "How Europe's economies learn: a comparison of work organization and innovation mode for the EU-15," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(6), pages 1175-1210, December.
    16. Kenneth J. Arrow, 1962. "The Economic Implications of Learning by Doing," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 155-173.
    17. Shulin Gu & Bengt-Åke Lundvall, 2006. "China's Innovation System and the Move Toward Harmonious Growth and Endogenous Innovation," DRUID Working Papers 06-07, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michaela Trippl, 2006. "Cross-Border Regional Innovation Systems," SRE-Disc sre-disc-2006_05, Institute for Multilevel Governance and Development, Department of Socioeconomics, Vienna University of Economics and Business.
    2. Edward J. Malecki, 2010. "Everywhere? The Geography Of Knowledge," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 493-513.

    More about this item


    Knowledge; economic development;

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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