How knowledge impacts society

The differences in levels of prosperity across nations depend on the amount of knowledge that society holds

Another reason education in Singapore is so excellent is simply because of the Singaporean culture.
The Union Health Ministry has introduced a new category, 'Wards of COVID Warriors', in the guidelines for selection and nomination of candidates against central pool MBBS seats.

By Vidya Hattangadi

National prosperity is always created, and rarely is inherited. It grows out of the quality of education the country adopts. It grows out of the labour pool, transparency in administration and its currency’s value. Singapore ranks number one in many indexes because it imparts quality education. Education in Singapore is far superior than in many other countries because the classes are focused on teaching the students specific problem-solving skills and subjects.

Another reason education in Singapore is so excellent is simply because of the Singaporean culture. The citizens and the government prioritise education in their national agenda.

A nation’s competitiveness depends on the capacity of its industry to innovate and upgrade, which comes from knowledge. The differences in levels of prosperity across nations depend on the amount of knowledge that society holds. This is the idea behind economic involvedness. Countries whose economic complexity is greater are excellent at collective knowledge. As a key resource, knowledge represents a factor of economic and social development. Formal, non-formal or informal education builds itself as a necessity and represents an important pillar of the knowledge society.

Collective knowledge refers to the ways in which knowledge is distributed and shared among the citizens and business organisations of a country.

A ‘knowledge society’ is a term to describe societies that are economically and culturally characterised by a high degree of dependency on their potential to create scientific and technological knowledge. Therefore, knowledge is becoming a special good in the market and a product to merchandise.

Companies achieve core competency and competitive advantages through innovation. Organisations brace up innovation in its broadest sense, including both new technologies and new ways of doing things. They perceive new basis for competing or finding better means for competing the old style of functioning. Innovation can be manifested in a new product design, a new production process, a new marketing approach, supply chain, and training and development. In international markets, innovations that yield competitive advantage anticipate both domestic and foreign needs. For example, international concern for product safety has grown tremendously, and some Swedish companies like Volvo, Atlas Copco, and AGA AB have succeeded by anticipating the market opportunity in this area.

Innovation always involves investments in skills and knowledge; organisations can prove their core competency through patents which can protect an invention for up to 20 years.

Why do some countries grow faster and others do not?
For instance, in Japan, due to its progressive educational system, it ranks number one in innovations. The country has one of the world’s best-educated populations with 100% enrolment in compulsory grades and zero illiteracy. Japan focused on manufacturing with outsourcing limited to local small firms that became captive suppliers rather than eventual competitors. Japanese studied not only product design and machine tools creation, but also precise manufacturing processes to achieve both quality and cost-effectiveness. Japan sets a comprehensible, sophisticated, and actually implemented industrial strategy over decades, like the US, Germany, France and England did periodically in the 19th century. The Japanese focus on shipbuilding, machine tool manufacturing, steelmaking, electronics, home appliances, consumer electronics, materials science, and industrial equipment through the sort of integrated conglomerates called keiretsu.

Keiretsu is a set of companies with interlocking business relationships and shareholdings. In the legal sense, it is a type of informal business group that loosely organises alliances within the social world of Japan’s business community. The Japanese believe in learning from everywhere. Successful economies borrow from the best and work out their own implementations, often in direct joint ventures or at least benchmarking. For example, Hero Cycles of India got into a joint venture with Honda of Japan in 1984 with an approximate equity of Rs 16 crore, which became the world’s largest two-wheeler company in early 2001. In 2010, Honda decided to move out of the joint venture and a new company Hero MotoCorp was born.

The notion of knowledge society is not very clear. It means a new society formed as a result of the modern societal change pushed by technological innovation and institutional transformation, which is not only about technological innovations, but also about progress of human beings in terms of emotional and intellectual growth. It is related to personal growth, creativity, experience and participation in generating knowledge. The primary role of nations in a knowledge society is to ensure that their knowledge sources are passed on and advanced by each generation.

A knowledge society values and acknowledges the impactful role and contribution of knowledge in pursuit of socio-economic development. Few years ago, a team of researchers from Harvard and MIT discovered that a new measure based on a country’s collective knowledge can account for the enormous income differences between nations better than any other factor. Ricardo Hausmann, Cesar Hidalgo, Sebastian Bustos, Michele Coscia, Alexander Simoes and Muhammed Yildrim have written a book titled ‘The Atlas of Economic Complexity’. The authors say that the amount of knowledge that is required to make a product can vary enormously from one good to the next. Most modern products require more knowledge than what a single person can hold. Nobody in this world can produce a product or service just on his own. For every product, a battery of workers and a battery of activities are responsible.

In a larger sense, human resource management becomes responsible for developing an organisation and nations. I am sure that workers like to work in a firm that is much larger and more connected than an unorganised firm. That’s the reason quality of education is measured in its ability to push the frontiers of human understanding forward.

The author is a management thinker and blogger

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