Tværsektoral innovation: Udfordringen med vidensdeling

Lene Ekholm Petersen

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftAbstraktForskningpeer review


Cross-sectoral Innovation – The Challenge of Knowledge Sharing Keywords: Knowledge sharing, clusters, ANT, Communities of Practice, welfare technology With regard to meeting the challenges of the knowledge economy, a mode 2 of production (Gibbons et al., 2010), collaboration between actors across sectors gains increased focus when discussing innovation. As Ezkowitch (2008) stresses, future innovations will happen within the triplehelix of industry, education institutions and administration. To initiate these innovations, clusters (Porter, 2008) have become very popular. The concept of cluster thinking is, among other things, to make room for knowledge sharing among actors within the cluster. The paper will add to the discussion about knowledge sharing and learning across organizations in different sectors by drawing on authors from organizational theory (Gherardi and Nicolini, 2003, Brown and Duguid, 2001 and Ellström, 2008) along with authors from evolutionary economic geography (Amin and Cohendet, 2009, Cooke et al., 2007, Creviosier and Jeannerat, 2009 and David and Foray, 2002). The paper will unpack the question of how cluster development can be seen taking an ANT approach when knowledge is seen as being situated in a system of ongoing practice (Gherardi and Nicolini, 2003). 1. Point of Departure In the Nordic countries the public sector holds a substantial part of the economy because of the welfare system, which should be taken into consideration when discussing cross-sectoral innovation. In Denmark the economic system or the nation’s type of capitalism would fall under the category of coordinated market economy (Hall and Soskice, 2001) contrary to a liberal market economy as is found in Britain. This means that public institutions and organizations play a central role in the economy. Hansen and Winther (2015) study the geography of educational levels and conclude that a positive relationship exists between the presence of people with a medium-cycle higher education in municipalities and job growth in the same area (Hansen and Winther, 2015). This educational-level category consists of welfare workers like nurses, therapists, teachers and educators. The study indicates that the importance of the welfare worker has been overlooked in past discussions about the influence of talent on innovation and economic growth. Cooke (2013) sees the core process of innovation as knowledge recombination. In evolutionary economic geography, knowledge is seen as a key factor in the processes of innovation. (Amin and Cohendet, 2009, Asheim, 2007, Boschma, 2005, Cooke et al., 2007 and Crevoisier and Jeannerat, 2009). For knowledge to be disseminated and used, transfer and sharing across organizations is needed. Therefore the paper will disentangle how knowledge is transferred and shared between different organizations and how the logic (Ellström, 2008) in different organizational setups will affect cooperation between actors across sectors. This will be done by examining a case of clusterdevelopment. The paper will also add to the discussion about the genesis of knowledge by considering the context in which knowledge is generated. David and Foray (2002) discuss the black box of knowledge and divide knowledge into two different types by using the concept of tacit knowledge, introduced by Polanyi (1966), and adding the concept of codified knowledge to the discussion. The difference between knowledge, information and data is also considered. In order to answer the question of why knowledge is sometimes ‘sticky’ and sometimes ‘leaky’, Brown and Duguid (2001) emphasise the importance of the practices used within a firm. If knowledge is seen as ‘sticky’ the question is about the challenge of moving knowledge around inside organizations. On the contrary the discussion about ‘leakiness’ is about dealing with an undesirable flow of knowledge to external parties. However, Brown and Duguid (2001) find the discussion meaningless if the aspect of the community of practice is not taken into consideration. As stressed by Gherardi and Nicolini (2003) knowledge can be seen as a process or a product that is created not only in interactions among individuals but also in interaction with technologies or text. Knowledge is something we do and something that we integrate in things. As they argue: “knowledge is situated in the system of the ongoing practices”. (Gherardi and Nicolini, 2003 p. 205) It raises the question of whether it really is possible to transfer knowledge in a more simplified way, for example by buying or selling knowledge. If knowledge cannot be viewed as a commodity or as merchandise how is knowledge then disseminated, shared and used? Generating knowledgesharing networks and initiatives it is interesting to examine whether it is actually knowledge that is being transferred and in that case, if it is possible to identify what kind of knowledge you can transfer. With regard to answering these questions the paper will examine a case example from an applied research project at University College Zealand, the Zealand Welfare Cluster. The cluster in selected areas will be compared to the CIDe Cluster Finland ( 2. Cluster Development - a Case Study The paper will present a case where the overall goal has been to promote knowledge to flow from education institutions into private firms. The heading for the project is: “Knowledge that strengthens firms in the Region of Zealand”. To meet this goal four education institutions have been given the task of constructing four clusters. University College Zealand took on the task of building a welfare technology cluster. In Denmark healthcare is mainly provided by public institutions. Municipalities take care of nursing the elderly and disabled people and regions are responsible for running the hospitals. As a citizen in a municipality or a patient at a hospital, healthcare is free of charge. Across the world there is a growing market for healthcare technology, ambient assisted living and welfare technology (Heilesen, 2013). In Denmark this means that the market is mainly composed of public institutions and consumers. Even though it is the citizen, patient or welfare worker that will use the device it is the institution that is the customer in terms of financing the welfare technology. Firms producing healthcare and welfare products mainly deliver to, and thus focus on, a public market. In order to adjust and develop their products knowledge is needed about how the products work in practice. Much innovation demands feedback from users. For healthcare and welfare products this is also the case. Products help to solve very intimate and personal problems like eating and personal hygiene. To adjust the devices in order to make the technological possibilities meet with the nursing demands the welfare worker holds a very central decision-making position. Hence firms producing products for the welfare market are in constant need of knowledge about how the products interact with the patient or citizen, and welfare workers are in constant need of knowledge about what products are available on the market. If the knowledge isn’t available to welfare workers, they are not able to find and apply the best technology for their patient. Therefore a gap exists. University College Zealand plays a role in bridging this gap. By training welfare workers the institution holds substantial knowledge about how to match the technology with the user. Therefore knowledge sharing and transferring across sectors in this case becomes vital. In many cases organizations within the sectors have very different natures. For example private firms have no uniform character. Some are mediumsized and have a global market or subdivisions abroad and others are very small with few employees and only a very local market. Hospitals are very large organizations with many divisions, each with its own logic. The same goes for the municipalities, and their purchase of welfare products is mainly done by procurement. To meet the demands of public procurement, private firms must meet very strict rules regarding price and supply. For small firms it can be an almost insuperable barrier. The logic of having public organizations is to provide the best care and service to the citizen but with limited means. Therefore time is short for making any change or development in order to innovate and create value. Private firms are also almost always lacking time. If business is bad they use a lot of time to market their products; in good times they use all their time to run the firm by producing and selling products. In order to solve some of these challenges and to facilitate innovation across sectors University College Zealand has taken on the task of building a more formalised structure for collaboration, which in this case is a cluster: Zealand Welfare Cluster. The paper will analyse the process of constructing Zealand Welfare Cluster by using the discussion about knowledge presented by Amin and Cohendet (2009) and Gherardi and Nicolini (2003) and the discussion about competitive advantage outlined by Porter (2008) focusing on cluster theory. The paper will outline what lessons are learned from the early stages to the point where a formal structure has been made. Phase 1, mapping the firms to find out if a critical mass of firms exists to create a cluster. Phase 2, involving the firms to find out what kinds of challenges they would like the cluster initiative to meet. Phase 3, involving the public institutions in order to map the challenges they face with the use and implementation of welfare technology. Phase 4, match-making between different actors in private-public constellations. Phase 5, analysing what has been learned and developed and if it has been for mutual benefit. 3. Tentative Findings The experience with cluster development across sectors shows that the outcome of the collaboration called for by the firms could be more likely termed experiences (Illeris, 2011) instead of knowledge. By experiences I mean a non-verbal, embodied mastering (Amin and Cohendet, 2009) of the technology. But the contrary is also asked for, namely new perspectives of the technology from people who do not know anything about the products in advance. This could be called: A no knowledge or don’t know how. It points to the importance of joint learning in setups where experts and non-experts can meet and learn from each other in order to improve and innovate on the products. Something you could call a setup of temporary communities of practice (Gherardi and Nicolini, 2003). The case also shows that there is great interest in cooperating with actors in other sectors, but making a setup with consideration to all parties so that they all benefit from it is very complex and time consuming, because of the existence of different organizational logics (Ellström, 2008) for each type of partner. The paper concludes by posing a new question which is how to overcome the different logics in order make ground for all the actors to benefit the most from the collaboration. 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Bidragets oversatte titelTværsektoral innovation: Udfordringen med vidensdeling
Publikationsdato9 nov. 2015
Antal sider3
StatusUdgivet - 9 nov. 2015