The Competitiveness of Nations in a Global Knowledge-Based Economy



Apprehension of the competitiveness of nations in a global knowledge-based economy requires a synthetic perspective integrating all three primary pragmatic domains of contemporary knowledge or epistemology (please see Figure 1: Epistemic Genetics):

  • the Natural & Engineering Sciences (NES - Quantity);

  • the Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS - Values); and,

  • the Arts (Quality).

The term pragmatic epistemology is used to capture the way knowledge is institutionalized. First, nation states have created specialized funding agencies to foster and promote specific knowledge domains. In Canada, there are the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canada Council for the Arts (CC). In other English-speaking countries, the pattern varies but only as a variation on a common theme. In the USA, there are the National Science Foundation embracing NES and the Social Sciences, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In the United Kingdom there are, in effect, separate 'councils' for each of the natural sciences, the engineering sciences, the social sciences, the humanities and the arts.

Second, 'new' knowledge flowing from these domains becomes institutionalized in the form of intellectual property rights (IPRs). IPRs are created both by statute and practice. Statutory or formal IPRs include copyrights, patents, registered industrial designs and trademarks. IPRs created through practice, or informal IPRs, include managerial 'know-how' and trade secrets.

Third, application of knowledge becomes technology in the original Greek sense of techne meaning art and logos meaning reason, that is, 'reasoned art'. NES generates physical technology, that is, how to manipulate the natural world. HSS generates organization technology, that is, how to manipulate the human-made world. The Arts generate aesthetic (from the ancient Greek meaning to gasp) or design technology, that is, how to manipulate the human heart and soul to achieve what the Greeks meant by kosmos, that is, the sense of the right ordering of the multiple parts of the world.

Using transdisciplinary induction, that is, assembling and analyzing evidence from all three knowledge domains, it will be demonstrated that it is interaction or, more accurately, the interphasing of output from knowledge domains that determines the competitiveness of nations in a global knowledge-based economy.

Previous research and modeling conducted by the candidate will be assembled together with existing research contributed by other scholars. A series of directed reading courses and tutorials will serve to fill gaps in the candidate's knowledge and skills base. One or more comparative case studies will also be conducted, for example:

  • Case Study 1: An International Comparative Study of the Institutionalization of Knowledge;

  • Case Study 2: An International Comparative Study of Synchrotron Technology; and,

  • Case Study 3: An International Comparative Study of Genetic Engineering.

Interdisciplinary Rationale

The question arises: Given the candidate holds a Master's Degree in Economics, why should the proposed thesis be treated as 'interdisciplinary'? Would not the Departments of Economics or Agricultural Economics be more appropriate hosts for the program?

The answer lies primarily in methodology. The proposed methodology is transdisciplinary induction, that is, assembling and synthesizing evidence from all three pragmatic knowledge domains - the Arts, H&SS and N&ES. The initial set of disciplines from which intelligence will be harvested include: aesthetics, biogenetics, cultural anthropology, economics, epistemology, ethnic studies, futures studies, history, law, linguistics, political studies, psychology, religious studies, subatomic physics, technological forecasting, wisdom traditions and women's studies.

Neither Economics nor Agricultural Economics, nor any 'disciplinary' department, has, by definition, expertise in such a heterodox methodology. For example, the thesis will range over:

  • aesthetics and its syntony (Jantsch 1975: 103) with subatomic physics (specifically quantum theory) pollinating the cubist movement of 'modern' art;

  •  legal history and cultural relativism of intellectual property rights and the competitive implications of 'national treatment' under the WTO;

  •  linguistic etymology capturing nuances of meaning of key terms in different languages and alphabets - competitiveness, nation, global, knowledge, base, economy - cum Innis (Innis 1950, 1951) and McLuhan (McLuhan, Logan: 1977);

  • state sponsored industrial espionage together with ecological, political and religious terrorism contrasted with 'orthodox' cluster theories of innovation (Porter 1990) as competing national strategies in a global knowledge-based economy; and,

  • 'wisdom' traditions, ecologic, ethnic and women's studies highlighting the growing epistemological function of subjectivity in the waning years of scientific imperialism (Chartrand 1989a), etc.

The thesis will highlight an apparent transformation of the contemporary knowledge hierarchy, giving witness to:

  • the waning dominance of traditional Newtonian physics with its mechanistic (continuous) models and the waxing of biological, general systems, holistic and/or quantum (discontinuous) models of reality ; and

  • the institutionalization of contextual, holistic, relativistic, and/or subjective disciplines, e.g. wisdom traditions, ethnic and women's studies etc., within the rationalist halls and lecturer theatres of universities and colleges around the world.

By definition, no disciplinary department is equipped to handle the proposed range and diversity of evidence (quantitative, qualitative and value-based) nor accommodate such a heterodox methodology. The thesis is truly transdisciplinary in nature (see Figure 1: Epistemic Genetics).


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