The Role of the Virtual in Knowledge-Based Economies, Organizations, and Localities



Rob Shields,

Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology

Innovation Management Research Unit

Carleton University,

Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6



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In the context of globalization and risk management, knowledge and the virtual are key concepts that are poorly understood by decision makers and social theorists. This article refutes the OECD’s presumption that knowledge is an intangible, fixed asset, by showing the importance of context, scale and the ‘virtuality’ of knowledge in risk-management, communication, and knowledge management The article examines factors which maintain knowledge in a more fluid state. I begin with an examination of the rise of the notion of the ‘knowledge-based economy’ and assumptions about the nature of knowledge as information - as a ‘thing’ which can be accumulated and commodified as an asset This is followed by a discussion of the virtuality of knowledge, as opposed to actuality. Methods such as figure-ground are noted as possible approaches to the contexts of knowledge use.

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