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ADVANCES IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE INNOVATION STRATEGIES OF FIRMS
The ability to appropriate newly-generated technical knowledge is a key to the strategic behaviour of firms. Therefore, institutional and organisational arrangements are eventually challenged and transformed by major new (Schumpeterian) innovations. The effects of recent, revolutionary advances in information technology provide an especially striking illustration of this interplay. Although these tensions have always existed, their current dimensions are new. The seemingly inexorable development of highly-efficient, global information networks is transforming the strategic responses of firms to changing market conditions. Nowhere is this transformation more evident than in the changing role of property rights to firm-specific technical and market knowledge.
CHANGING MARKETS IN FINANCIAL SERVICES OPPORTUNITIES AND HAZARDS FOR CONSUMERS
Bad debts and non-performing loans are sending shock waves round the world financial system. Simultaneously, banks and other financial institutions are having to grapple with changes induced by the internationalisation of financial markets, deregulation and technological innovation. This situation presents consumers with new opportunities in the form of a wider choice of financial institutions and products and — in theory — keener price competition. However, consumers also face new hazards, in the form of increased risk of failure of financial institutions, changes in pricing policy, aggressive marketing methods and inadequate bargaining power. The agenda of consumer issues which need to be addressed by governments and consumer organisations include problems of access, choice, information, safety and redress.
THE IMPACT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY UPON ECONOMIC SCIENCE
Paul A. David & W. Edward Steinmueller
Rapid advances in information technology seem likely to change radically its usefulness for the economics profession. This paper reviews the range of existing applications and those that will probably emerge. It also considers the impact these new applications are likely to have on the discipline, and on the social sciences more generally.
PAPUA NEW GUINEA’S EXPORT-CROP RESEARCH: PAST RETURNS AND EXPECTED ECONOMIC EFFECTS
George Antony & Kevin A. Parton
The project described in the paper is the first attempt to provide an economic evaluation of export-crop research in PNG. The institutional framework is outlined to provide a context for understanding the methods used. Past performance of two agricultural research projects was assessed and then eleven ex ante research evaluations were performed. After reviewing the overall results, suggestions are made for institutionalising research evaluation procedures at various levels of the public administration system.
THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF TWO AUSTRALIAN WOMEN SCIENTISTS TO ITS WOOL INDUSTRY
By the early 1960s there was a general decline in the consumption of wool, Australia’s leading export. Prices were falling and it became clear that wool was suffering from the competitive advantages of the artificial fibres then starting to flood world markets. If the wool industry were to compete successfully, a high quality fleece would have to be produced by growers and the disadvantages of felting and shrinking would have to be overcome. Two Australian women scientists addressed these problems. One was concerned with the genetics of sheep breeding; the other worked on the physics of wool fibres to reduce their limitations in the textile product. The paper examines the major contributions made by these women in meeting the threat to the Australian wool industry posed by the development of synthetics.
KNOWLEDGE AS CAPITAL: INTEGRATED QUALITY MANAGEMENT
Quality of any product or service depends on the quality of the underlying process of its design, production and delivery. Quality, as customer-defined fitness for use, is to be pulled in by an integrated (and empowered) customer, rather than pushed out by a survey data-saturated (informated) producer. There are two essential ways of approaching such an objective of continuous quality improvement. The second tries to exploit the customer separation from the production process (customer is the object of production), while the other is based on direct customer integration into the production process (customer becomes also the subject of production — the prosumer) and relies more on monitoring the customer’s actual behaviour. This paper describes and demonstrates the latter approach, integrated process management (IPM), as a more reliable, more flexible and globally more desirable system of customer-pulled quality delivery. Transnational business ecosystems require new ways of management, more attuned to the upcoming era of knowledge, integration and company-environment ecological interpenetration. These new ways of management are naturally related to the older management wisdom and experience of both Western Europe and United States before World War II, later abandoned by the West, but perpetuated and enhanced by Japan of today. As P.F. Drucker argues, the next step in the use of knowledge, in full swing since 1970, applies analysis and system to the productive process itself.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND THE REDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GASES
Anthony D. Owen
The opportunity for efficiency gains in energy end-uses is viewed as perhaps the single most important factor determining future levels of energy consumption, and therefore emissions of carbon dioxide (a so-called ‘greenhouse’ gas), sulphur dioxide, and other pollutants. This paper traces the path of energy utilisation during the past few decades and identifies possible future sources of major efficiency gains. Particular emphasis is placed on the electricity generation and transportation sectors.
SOCIAL ASPECTS OF TELEPHONE USE IN AUSTRALIA
A review of the social aspects of domestic telephone use in Australia indicates that the area remains in its infancy, but has revealed a general positive attitude toward the telephone and some behavioural trends in Australian domestic telephone users. For example, the home telephone is used more for intrinsic reasons than instrumental ones; females generally make and receive more calls from family and friends rather than males; social extroverts use the domestic telephone most often; verbalisers are called more than visualisers; a majority feel compelled to answer a ringing telephone at home and that compulsion accompanied by possession of a telephone at work best discriminates between high and low instrumental users; many variables distinguish between heavy and light intrinsic use including the use of the telephone to contact family as well as a perception that the telephone makes life more hectic.
AUSTRALIAN, US AND UK TECHNOLOGY TRANSACTIONS
Julian Lowe & Martin Atkins
A comparison of the results of surveys of Australian, US and UK technology transactions confirms earlier work on the limited role of patents and the wide range of transactions encompassed in technology purchase and sale. However, there is considerable variation between countries and between buyers and sellers of technology, concerning the nature of technology transactions and the perceived importance of proprietary knowledge. Joint venture activity also occurs across a wide spectrum of firms and is usually aimed at product development rather than fundamental research or process/manufacturing innovation. Most firms have problems with technology agreements and the complexity of negotiations is a key issue, although experience and learning over a range of transactions tends to reduce their importance.