Background to the Globelics Academy
During the 1990s, technological development,
especially in ICT, biotech, new materials and transport, interacted
with regulatory efforts towards liberalisation and deregulation
of international trade, investment and finance to produce an
unprecedented scale and speed of change in the structure and
composition of economic activities. These are the changes, which
are conventionally referred to as “economic globalisation”.
The other side has been the rapid growth in knowledge-based
economic activities; especially those based on information and
communication technologies. Accordingly, citizens in the countries
in the North gradually find themselves inhabiting an “information”,
“knowledge” or “learning” society.
However, whichever name is assigned to
this society, it has its negative side: there is a not only
persistent but in many respects growing “information”, “knowledge”
or “learning” divide. The persistency of these divides alone
indicates that efforts to overcome them are fraught with challenges.
This proposed Globelics Academy and the network behind it represent
efforts toward understanding the underlying dynamics and toward
overcoming these divides.
The 1980s and 1990s witnessed very mixed
experiences with structural adjustment programmes as well as
large-scale collapses of financial systems in both nation states
and larger regions. This has lead to a growing awareness among
academics, practitioners, international development organisations
and policy-makers alike, that crucial institutional, structural
and social insights are likely to be missing in the mainstream
development policy equation. What is needed appears to be a
heterodox recipe building on deep insights into development
processes, which are more often than not highly localised. Standard-recipes,
applied indiscriminately to economies across the globe, economies
that differ hugely in their historical trajectories, structural
position, and immediate development prospects, do not appear
to be sufficient.
Innovation in its various shapes and forms
increasingly presents itself as an imperative to nations, regions,
firms, and individuals alike. It follows that, in academic terms,
better analytical understandings of the roles of innovation
in contemporary economic dynamics are called for. In terms of
development policy, such better understandings can inform efforts
to devise policy instruments, which can institute virtuous circles
of learning, innovation and competence building.
Local pockets of scientific excellence in studies of learning,
innovation and competence building systems have been built over
the last decades, mainly but not exclusively in developed countries.
The scholars engaged in building ‘globelics’ and their institutions,
are at the forefront of the field. They share the characteristic
of viewing economic development as a systemic process, active
at many separate institutional levels from the global level
over the national down to dynamics within individual firms and
the skills and competencies of their employees. The approaches
encourage spatially and temporally sensitive analyses of the
constitution of global and local economic systems and the relationship
between different systems and different systemic levels (international-national,
national-national, national-local, etc.).
Many of the researchers and institutions from across the globe,
involved in Globelics, have long been engaged in informal researcher
networks and many have in the past collaborated or are currently
collaborating on joint comparative research projects on innovation,
knowledge and economic dynamics. Some countries have already
established local, regional or national networks for innovation
studies while others have not.
The Globelics Academy will facilitate the strengthening of existing
networks locally, encourage and inspire the creation and new
ones, and, perhaps most importantly, allow for existing networks
to be brought better in touch with each other in a more formalised
setting. Especially, it will make sure that the accumulated
knowledge is transferred to next generation of scholars.