The Competitiveness of Nations in a Global Knowledge-Based Economy

B - Objectives

1. Primary Objective

The primary objective of the thesis is to develop a holistic understanding of the competitiveness of nations in an emerging global knowledge-based economy based on a synthetic perspective of the differing nature and interaction of the three pragmatic domains of contemporary knowledge or epistemology:

  • the Natural & Engineering Sciences (NES);

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

  • the Arts.

The term pragmatic epistemology is used to define the institutionalization of knowledge. An institution is defined as a routinized pattern of collective human behaviour to distinguish it from the 'habits' of an individual. Three different forms of institutionalization will be considered.

First, modern nation states create specialized public funding agencies to foster and promote different knowledge domains. For example, 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, there are variations on this pattern. In the USA, there is a National Science Foundation embracing NES and the Social Sciences while there is a separate National Endowment for the Humanities and a National Endowment for the Arts. In the UK, by contrast, there are separate councils for each of the natural sciences, the engineering sciences, the social sciences, the humanities and the arts. What is the pattern in non-English-speaking countries?

Second, knowledge flowing from these domains becomes institutionalized in the form of intellectual property rights (IPRs) resulting from statute and practice. Statutory or formal IPRs include copyrights, patents, registered industrial designs and trademarks. IPRs created from through practice, or informal IPRs, include managerial 'know-how' and trade secrets. IPRs, however, vary significantly between nation states, e.g. Anglo-American copyright and Civil Code author's rights. What are the differences with respect to patents, registered industrial designs and trademarks?

Third, knowledge becomes institutionalized in the form of technology in the ancient 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 (including law and religion) generates organizational 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 or achieve what the Greeks called kosmos, that is, the sense of the right ordering of the multiple parts of the world. How is knowledge from different domains applied in different countries and cultures? How does one knowledge domain inhibit and/or encourage development and application of new technology in other domains, e.g. how does religion affect NSE research and development?


2. Subsidiary Objectives

The thesis has three subsidiary objectives including to:

  • reveal the contribution of HSS and the Arts to the competitiveness of nations;

  • foster interdisciplinary research in an emerging field of study - the global economy; and,

  • provide Canadian government and business with tools to identify its long-term competitiveness and potential alliances in different industrial sectors and different global markets.

3. Research Tasks

There are four research tasks:

(i) Prior Research

In the course of his career the candidate has accumulated a great deal of evidence and constructed a number of relevant models (please see: Knowledge-Based Technological Change, Epistemic Genetics; World Cultural Intelligence Framework). Evidence (quantitative, qualitative and descriptive) and models will, together with the results of a literature review, be assembled and prepared for inclusion in the written PhD thesis.


(ii) Directed Readings & Tutorials

To fully develop the thesis, additional evidence will be required and gaps in the candidate's knowledge and skills base filled through directed reading and tutorial half-courses. These, in turn, will be coordinated with the third research task: comparative case studies. The proposed directed readings and tutorial courses include:

(a) Patents, Registered Industrial Design & Trademarks: specifically their national differences and variations under the supervision of a representative of the School of Law;

(b) Natural & Engineering Sciences: specifically the economics of genetic engineering and/or synchrotron technology, under the supervision of representatives of the Department of Agricultural Economic and/or Economics in conjunction with representatives from applied biotech and/or Physics Departments;

(c) Epistemology: under the supervision of a representative of the Department of Philosophy; and,

(d) International Studies and/or Cultural Anthropology: under the supervision of a representative of the Department of Political Science and/or Anthropology.


(iii) Comparative Case Studies

To demonstrate and, to the degree possible, test the thesis comparative case studies will be conducted. Potential case studies include:


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

Initial research demonstrates that English-speaking countries have chosen to institutionalize knowledge in similar yet different ways. It is proposed to conduct a comparative study of Canada and one or more nation states, e.g. France, Japan, Singapore, South Korea or the Ukraine, to assess national differences in the institutionalization of knowledge - domains, intellectual property rights and technologies.


Case Study 2: An International Comparative Study of Synchrotron Technology

Initial research demonstrates that NES research is constrained in different ways in different countries and cultures. For example, until October 2000 the National Science Foundation in the United States did not fund fetal tissue research. The refusal had nothing to do with 'scientific' reasons and everything to do with religious values.

It is proposed to conduct an international comparative study of one NSE technology - the synchrotron. A synchrotron is a device designed to accelerate charged particles, such as electrons, nearly to the speed of light. A series of magnets is used to bend the path of the electrons into a circular shape. As they pass these "bending" magnets, the path of electrons is deflected and emit intense beams of light, known as synchrotron radiation. The spectrum of synchrotron radiation covers part of the electromagnetic spectrum, from infrared through gamma rays. It is used to investigate the structure and properties of all forms of matter.

At present, and including the synchrotron being constructed on the campus of the University of Saskatchewan, there are at least 29 such devices in 15 countries. The study would investigate use and application of synchrotron technology to determine if a correlation exists between fields of synchrotron research and cultural origins of researcher, sponsors and/or national location of the device.


Case Study 3: An International Comparative Study of Genetic Engineering

The burgeoning NES technology of genetic engineering is another field in which it expected that different applications exist based on the cultural and national origin of researchers and sponsors. In medical technology the field of cardio-vascular research provides an example. In secular Western cultures the primary, and preferred, animal model is the pig. Genetic engineering research is being conducted to develop organs such as the heart for possible transplant into human beings. While there are 'world class' medical schools in Islamic countries no pig-based research is being conducted for religious reasons. The proposed study would investigate use and application of genetic engineering to determine if a correlation exists between such research and the cultural and national origins of researchers.

next page