Murphy, P  (2005)  'Knowledge Capitalism', in Thesis Eleven, May: 36 - 62

[Pretty dull and full of the usual claptrap about knowledge economies and networks -- what's it doing in this magazine? Very long as well, and full of the most absurd generalizations.]

It all turns on changing networks, apparently. Formal  networks were characteristic of Fordism, for example, and were designed to solve the problem of co-ordination. New technology improved things, but the network of large corporations is substantially hierarchical, except in Japan, apparently, where there is still lots of face-to-face networking  [and look how well they've done!]. Standardization is a technique to simply improve the co-ordination of action  and also  'Human beings have a strong attraction to consistent forms of behaviour' (38). This also explains the spread of rationalization.

Then there was a  'visible philosophical shift away from the vertically integrated network organisation' (40), partly because such vertical integration was not the best way to develop intellectual value, including  'design intelligence'. However, such intelligence became economically far more important, leading to firms based on intellectual capital. Given creativity, rules of procedure replaced standardised products. Luckily, modern designers apparently build on some residual  'instinct of workmanship' or  'poeisis' (41).  [all these clever distinctions are then denied and everything apparently interpenetrates everything else -- we don't want anything too precise in this incantatory style do we?]

Apparently, co-ordination with intellectual capital industries depends on trust and frequent communication and interaction. This produces a  'lattice network'. Suppliers and consumers are brought into the network. The Japanese example is cited again -- apparently, social networks here are based around  'quasi-ritual groups devoted to the cultivation of exacting aesthetic and formalistic standards' [tea ceremonies, judo, or calligraphy]. In the West, we use different kinds of civic networks. 'Creative figures' have to play a major role though  [no doubt including creative managers]. The decline of Fordism apparently is down to the lack of encouragement of creativity. American universities also allowed far too much hierarchy via subject disciplines  (46). What is needed instead is  'correspondence relations'.

In practice, this can look like a series of impermanent teams, but the best forms are  'un- coerced collective action' (46). This works well when everyone is responsible for quality, ideas can be tried out on suppliers and consumers, and  'communities of practice' emerge  (47). Everything depends on trust. Murphy believes that it is in everyone's interest to cooperate though, especially in producing a nicer world:  'agents are surprisingly willing to corporate  "for nothing"' (47)  [Jesus!]. It is all for the common good. We must all cooperate as part of our civic duty.

Cooperation deepens trust, and luckily  'typically societies with a strong design sense also have a strong civic impulse' (48)  [nothing as vulgar as evidence here or any thing of course]. Any innovative company mixes civic and aesthetics motives  [usual problem -- this must happen, and if so what does the must mean?]. [Here is a typical use of phoney  'data'--  'It is estimated that today... the intangible assets of intellectual capital represent anywhere between three and 16 times the book value of tangible assets' (48). There is a reference, but I bet it is the same old management bullshit].

We should think of organizations as developing overlapping civic circles. This will generate intellectual property for the company [!]. Apparently though it is 'pathetic' if academics assert copyright: they should consider themselves lucky to be members of the "republic of letters"  (49). We must just trust people.  'Loyalty is a social virtue' (50).

We must develop these new organizations if we are to release creativity.  'Creativity is the creation of form... [creative products]... can be copied and can be imitated' (51). That is just like a shared sense of rhythm or taste. We then have some historical examples about European countries which developed intellectual capital -- strangely, they also had  'a much higher rates of growth of copyrights and patents industries' (51).

The knowledge economy does not just mean data collection, since this can be pressed into the service of hierarchy. Nor does it matter if you have offices with computers in them. Information should be dispersed to encourage lateral flows and collaboration with others, especially those not in face-to-face contact. Creative knowledge is good -- it crosses boundaries, bridges diversion concepts, abstracts and produces novelty  (52). It is difficult to estimate the indirect value of creativity. Design is key:  'It is very clear that interactions involving strangers are primarily conducted through abstract design elements rather than through the handshake or other direct social cues. Societies rich in interactions between strangers produce strong design cultures' [with a reference to one of his earlier babblings]. This is seen in the way that great art is appreciated by a wider audience.

[Then a lot of repetition of the same points, presumably for rhetorical purposes. Then triumphant examples such as...] workforce militancy and dissatisfaction was high at the Ford Motor Company plant at Halewood, until Jaguar took it over. Then  'Levels of militancy, frustration, and dissatisfaction declined even while working hours increased. The reason for this is that the workforce quickly developed pride in the objects they were producing' (54). Apparently, this same connections between creativity and trust are found in a particularly successful region of Italy  [references here include Fukuyama and Putnam]. The Italian example also shows  'the power of design and civic intelligence' (55). So did the Renaissance. Serenity characterizes Renaissance Venice.

Thus  'It is the quality of the objects  [produced] that creates the "glue" that bonds apprentice and master, worker and owner, purchaser and sub-contractor, manufacturer and marketer, developer and manufacturer. This is a general principle of knowledge economies'

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