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Our Philosophy and KEN Conceptual Platform

In order to present the Network’s position on key issues of knowledge economy to its current and future Members, Sponsors, Partners, and Patrons, KEN Secretariat has developed this document, which has been approved by the International Advisory Board. The function of the Platform is to briefly define the key principles from the KEN Statutes, the Brochure and other documents.

KEN Members believe that most of the nations around the world increasingly understand that the development of strong knowledge economies can be used as a springboard to enhancing the quality of life for their citizens. However, so far only some countries and regions have proven capable to effectively design, adopt and implement policies leading to this goal.  The same is true for the leadership of many organizations in business, academia and innovation. KEN holds that policy makers and stakeholders will succeed in their efforts if they are guided by the following values: Common Sense, Knowledge, Ethics, Partnership, and Welfare.

KEN holds that knowledge represents the foundation for the advancement of human condition, but only if shared in an open, inclusive system, benefitting from genuine partnerships,  and applied ethically, it can lead to a society whose members enjoy a balanced, fulfilling, and happy life. No civilization has ever been able to prosper without accepting knowledge as a prime force of progress. Unfortunately, even today many societies are failing to create conditions necessary to encourage creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and change. Even the most advanced, highly democratic societies are not always successful in overcoming doctrinal rigidities and limitations, short term political opportunism, inertia and conservatism. Irrespective of their performance and achievements, societies need to update their mind-set, invest in knowledge, and apply all available energy and initiative for practical implementation of knowledge economy programmes. KEN is focused on helping its members and partners to reduce their implementation gaps.

The KEN slogan is: We look for the Next Practice, not only for the Best Practice, and we help Make it Happen Now! It is our task to understand future trends, and facilitate their appreciation in building economically successful societies - hopefully preventing the cost of having to learn from expensive mistakes.

At each level of economic development, and in various cultural environments, societies face different challenges, and people experience unique problems in developing their institutions and policies in response to the needs and pressures of the times. For example, most, if not all post-industrial economies in the early 21st century are still far from being fully adjusted to the requirements of service economy.  As human capital becomes more important than ever, the biggest challenge faced even by advanced societies is human development, i.e. the capacity of people to fully and timely recognize the requirements for change and adjustment. Knowledge economy cannot be achieved and maintained in the long run without the rule of law and a stable political system.

In the modern global village we should learn more from each other, while recognizing that transplants of foreign experiences rarely produce positive results. Wishing to contribute to global advancement in knowledge economy - we believe that mapping performance gaps, making comparisons and country rankings, including the consolidated KEN country ranking, and the application of the time distance method - helps us understand our differences,  and motivates us to perform better. In our economic analysis we combine the micro and macro approach.

Knowledge economy is based on quality of human capital and appropriate education and training institutions, production of highly sophisticated products and services increasingly exported worldwide, advanced R&D activities, effective support environment for innovative entrepreneurship, including availability of risk capital, and a market eager to accept new products, services and technologies. All these elements combined result in a more competitive economy.

On the issue of the role of women in corporate decision-making, KEN is not focusing just on gender balance, though it remains very important. We emphasize the human capital approach, i.e. reminding both sexes of the particular female qualities, which can essentially contribute to good management of companies. Societies cannot afford to let so much of human capital remain underutilized.

Though ethical application of knowledge by itself does not automatically lead to better quality of life in line with the core moral values and principles developed and adopted by modern civilization – notwithstanding cultural differences - it is essential, and economically justified, and should therefore never be ignored. The basic criteria here is very simple: knowledge is applied ethically if it does not create damage or increases risk to people and their environment.

Societal and economic processes are highly complex and often controversial. If all five KEN values are to be fully respected, knowledge societies need to satisfy many criteria. In order to succeed in balancing the impact of material motivation (when excessive, defined as »greed«) with dangers of disproportional economic and consequently social differentiation (creating tension, frustration and conflicts), authorities need to create conditions which will encourage innovative entrepreneurship and wealth creation, without causing destructive and potentially explosive social tensions.

One of the key problems of modern times is the fact that some senior politicians do not fully understand the complexities of human condition, and that the political reality too easily allows them to manipulate the electorate for the benefit of their own re-election. This cannot be changed without a stronger role of civil society, parliaments, academia, and professional associations, and generally, more qualified pressure on politicians, as well as political parties. Further progress can only be achieved through more proactive and responsible citizenship, and good governance by qualified and ethical leadership. More people with technical background – applying scientific approach to problem solving – should be welcomed in politics.

Public office holders should not be people who are running for office primarily to improve their material position and social standing, but those who wish to share their experience and contribute to improvement of conditions for their communities. This is also the best protection against corruption, which is not only demoralizing society, but perhaps even more importantly, creating economic distortions and lack of functionality in the economic and socio-political system.

Rules of lobbying should be re-examined and fully respected, in order to prevent the political arena from becoming the market place (or »black market«) for the rich and powerful. The role of the media is extremely important, but since they sometimes tend to exceed limits of objectivity and responsible reporting, they should also be subjected to stricter public scrutiny - of course without limiting the freedom of expression.

Business-Academia Partnership is a key pillar of knowledge economy, but it cannot flourish without appropriate support environment. Advanced knowledge economies (e.g.: the Scandinavian countries, Canada, Singapore and others) have demonstrated how much they have been able to benefit from this partnership, and how successful this relationship can become. Among others, this proves that the »culture gap« argument does not represent much more than an excuse of those who are not willing and/or able to do what is required from both sides of this most natural knowledge economy alliance.

One of the key issues in RD+I policies is the development of appropriate and effective support environment, which requires full understanding of the nature of inclusive innovation and entrepreneurship on the part of authorities. Although they declare knowledge society to be their priority, they tend to forget that building knowledge economy and society requires a change in all domains of policy and governance. Instead, under the RD+I label, usually only higher education, science, research, technology, innovation are covered. At the same time in many other domains (industry, agriculture, technology, finance, trade) most often the conventional, sectorial logic dominates, and counterproductive instruments are introduced, by which knowledge economy efforts are undermined.

The potential of Public-Private Partnership, PPP has not been fully utilized yet in many countries. This partnership has already demonstrated encouraging results and has the potential to resolve the controversy between private entrepreneurship and provision of public good.

Knowledge economy has a better chance to be developed with a stronger role of regions and their institutions. This is particularly important for the Triple Helix partners (business, academia and government) to interact in a productive way. National authorities can achieve better results when enjoying trust and support from regions, and by benefitting from synergies and complementarities in encouraging partnership of various knowledge actors at regional, inter-regional and national level.    

Authorities at all levels emphasize the importance of SMEs, particularly in terms of employment and providing many types of services. It is, however insufficiently recognized that SMEs have an important role also in innovative entrepreneurship, but in order to facilitate this role the support environment must take into account specific requirements, limitations and potential of these enterprises and their associations.

With various activities KEN wishes to contribute to better understanding of the complexities of the innovative entrepreneurship, presenting best and next practice cases, and facilitating communication and collaboration among potential partners at all levels, from local and regional, to international. By doing so, KEN is offering its contribution to the efforts of building an inclusive, global knowledge economy.

Undoubtedly, KEN’s Conceptual Platform will develop in scope and in depth, benefitting from research, insight and wisdom of its Triple Helix members from all corners of the global community. We are proudly at the beginning of an important and exciting journey, and the Secretariat is inviting you to be an active party in this promising endeavor!

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