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Colloquium - Mueller

Regional Exchange of Knowledge Between Industry and Research in Knowledge-Intense Economies
Claudia Mueller
9/19/2006
11:30am-1:00pm

The necessity to tackle a changing world makes learning an issue of major social and economic importance. In this context, the use of ICT and regional clusters has often been advocated to promote the development of hi-tech regions and branches. Thus, the promotion of inter-firm networks, networks between academia and industry, and regional clusters are of increasing demand.

A lot of related conceptions attempt to confer the success of the "Silicon Valley" to other regions. However, not always there is the necessary devotion to the meaning and preconditions of this "model" and to the situation in the targeted regions. Additionally, problems often arise due to a missing capacity to share and use knowledge.

The concept of "Social Capital" is recently been seen as helpful to tackle related problems. Still, it is a fussy term because of various definitions and approaches in different disciplines. A promising approach, though being overshadowed by more popular authors, is Pierre Bourdieu's concept of Social Capital. In his point of view, Social Capital complements other forms of capital, as economic and cultural capital. In addition, the forms of capital are fundamentally linked to his concepts of "social fields" and "habitus".

In my research, I applied Bourdieu's forms of capital to analyze a regional network between research and industry in the field of usability engineering. This network is associated with a German nation-wide initiative to foster software engineering knowledge among small and medium sized enterprises and knowledge exchange between industry and academia. Bourdieu's concept of Social Capital allows the understanding of knowledge as an economic resource, and the dilemma of a related individual "investor", as well. The case study shows how Bourdieu's differentiation between forms of capital allows a more profound analysis of knowledge sharing and related promotion activities.

Sponsored by the Center for Lifelong Learning & Design.

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