Prometheus: Vol 23, No 3 (2005)

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Attitudes to Error and Patient Safety
Craig S. Webster & Diana J. Grieve
Pages: 253-263


The vast majority of patients clearly benefit from modern health care. However, the rate of injury and death inadvertently caused by medical treatment remains too high, and exacts enormous human and financial costs. Organisational change is not solely a technological issue however, and the attitudes of clinicians are critical to the successful improvement of safety and the effective re‐design of procedures and equipment. We purposively surveyed a group of clinicians for whom treatment‐caused harm is of particular concern in order to better understand some of the difficulties involved in technological change and the potential attitudinal barriers to safety improvement.

Innovation, Skill Needs and Training in a Rural Community
Chris Selby Smith & Fran Ferrier
Pages: 265-283


Difficult challenges face the Gannawarra Shire in northern Victoria, including competing increasingly in global markets, environmental degradation and changing consumer preferences. Education, training and skill development are one way of addressing the challenges. A survey of 68 enterprises (distinguishing between growing, consolidating and declining enterprises) suggested, inter alia, that innovation is an essential element in Gannawarra’s response to the challenges it faces and that enterprises requiring more training differ significantly from those requiring different types of education and training. The ‘story’ of Gannawarra’s challenges and its efforts to address them provide insights which are likely to be useful elsewhere.

Inter‐firm Migration of Tacit Knowledge: Law and Policy
William van Caenegem
Pages: 285-306


Much knowledge is diffused by the exchange of property rights in intangibles. But tacit knowledge, not being subject to property rights, is instead diffused by migration of knowledgeable individuals between firms. The law impacts significantly on this diffusion mechanism, in particular those rules that determine the use individuals may make of their tacit knowledge after migration to a different firm. The general principle underlying the relevant law is that individuals are free to migrate with all their tacit knowledge. Nonetheless there are some narrow exceptions to this principle. That these exceptions remain narrow and carefully policed by the courts is important because imposing too many restraints on use of tacit knowledge post‐term would have a negative impact on real innovation.

Should the Knowledge‐based Economy be a Savant or a Sage? Wisdom and Socially Intelligent Innovation
David Rooney & Bernard McKenna
Pages: 307-323


Discourse about knowledge‐based economies rarely moves beyond the commercialization of science and engineering, and is locked in the discursive limits of functionalism. We argue that these discourses limit the scope of what knowledge‐based economies might achieve because they are uninformed by an adequate conception of knowledge. In particular, knowledge management and knowledge‐based economy discourse has not included the axiological dimension of knowledge that leads to wisdom. Taking an axiological perspective, we can discuss policy frameworks aimed at producing the social structures needed to bring fully formed and fully functioning knowledge societies into being. We argue that while the dominant discourse of industrial modernity remains rationalist, functionalist, utilitarian and technocratic, knowledge‐based economies will resemble a savant rather than a sage. A wisdom‐based renaissance of humanistic epistemology is needed to avoid increasing social dysfunction and a lack of wisdom in complex technological societies.

Japonica Rice: Intellectual Property, Scientific Publishing and Data‐sharing
Matthew Rimmer
Pages: 325-347


This article examines a series of controversies within the life sciences over data sharing. Part 1 focuses upon the agricultural biotechnology firm Syngenta publishing data on the rice genome in the journal Science, and considers proposals to reform scientific publishing and funding to encourage data sharing. Part 2 examines the relationship between intellectual property rights and scientific publishing, in particular copyright protection of databases, and evaluates the declaration of the Human Genome Organisation that genomic databases should be global public goods. Part 3 looks at varying opinions on the information function of patent law, and then considers the proposals of Patrinos and Drell to provide incentives for private corporations to release data into the public domain.

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Book Reviews
Pages: 349-363

Contributors to this Issue
Page: 365