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February 2003    Main Feature
a free monthly briefing on the knowledge agenda
No. 70

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Managing editor:
David J. Skyrme


Knowledge Globalization Isn't All Bad

Debra M. Amidon

Dissidents breech the barricades at G-8 conferences, Oprah’s TV features 'What Does the World Think of Us?'. The cultural critic Ziauddin Sardar and the anthropologist Merryl Wyn Davies publish 'Why Do People Hate America'? Simultaneously and on a more constructive front, there is a grass roots movement, supported by visionaries and leading edge organizations to create an interconnected world respecting and valuing differences and sharing knowledge to the benefit of all. Their work goes largely unnoticed in the media and deserves exposure.

Using the power of the Internet, stone by stone, the walls separating nations and cultures are being dismantled, replaced by a global community dedicated to the improved well-being of all the world's citizens. The root belief of this movement is that by knowing one another, we will know not to hate one another.

The mantra is innovation. The vehicle is shared knowledge. Here are a few examples of leadership in extraordinary places that are making a difference:

  • The Australian government is returning ownership of Aboriginal lands to the native peoples. With this decision, they are mobilizing the private and public sectors to create Desert Knowledge Australia - establishing an international center for research, learning and commercialization of the knowledge possessed by the aborigines to be shared with desert people worldwide.

  • Croatia’s leaders, under the direction of Dr. Ante Pulic, Economics Professor at Zagreb University, have created Croatia’s Intellectual Capital Report. This summer the government invited five thought leaders in the Knowledge field to share experiences and crystallize their strategy as they rebuild making full use of their knowledge, learning and innovation capacity…their Intellectual Capital.

  • With a new administration and leadership, Columbia, this besieged, proud nation is motivating its government and private sectors to combat the effects of local guerrilla terrorism driven by the profits to be gained from the drug trade. For example, once a dominant producer of coffee, they have lost their market to South East Asia. Manizales - a city at the center of the coffee plantations, is shifting gears to reconstruct itself as a Knowledge City.

  • In Venezuela, PDVSA, The quasi-governmental oil conglomerate, and largest employer for the country, hosts an annual week long international conference for knowledge and innovation. It is a premier event in the knowledge field. The meetings involve key company organizations and stakeholders, including suppliers, distributors, customers and alliance partners from around the world. They are learning and sharing the knowledge required for their sustained prosperity and thus the prosperity of all their stakeholders within Latin America and abroad.

  • Here at home, Massachusetts has moved in this direction too. The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative outlines the innovation economy. In October, Governor Swift released the statewide economic report entitled 'Toward a New Prosperity: Building Regional Competitiveness Across the Commonwealth' - describing knowledge workers, networked entrepreneurialism, and global trade. The new leadership of Governor-Elect W. Mitt Romney has an understanding the value of a competitive spirit within the context of global collaboration. Swift's press release stated: "This initiative builds a framework intended to promote dialogue among future policy makers and business leaders to help ensure competitiveness for the Commonwealth and its regions in the 21st century." What we need to realize is that the region is now the world beyond New England. To put the slogan of environmentalists to use… We must "think globally and act locally"; and local is becoming a bigger and bigger piece of the world. We can compete by sharing our knowledge; for in the process, we create more. Knowledge is the only sustainable, renewable resource.

  • The European Union is a model of the power of collaboration sharing knowledge. In the past 100 years, politics of Europe resulted in World War I, The Ruhr Invasion and World War II, involving at one time or another all the nations of Europe as well as the rest of the world. Millions died, many millions more suffered. In Europe, the motivation for warfare is diminished as these independent nations move towards interdependence and shared knowledge.

We need to extend this model worldwide. The links are coming into place; and the highway of people making things happen is emerging. We need governments to proactively support value-added investments that enable us to create wealth for all citizens of the world. The haves need not lose anything in order for the have-nots enjoy a higher standard of living. In fact, only by learning to build upon the capabilities of one another can we begin to realize mutual gain.

Globalization is not about defense against an enemy or competitive advantage; it is about the power of shared knowledge. The more we know about and value one another, the more we walk together. Valuing diversity and acting upon our knowledge are survival ethics for the 21st century.

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