Thursday, 3 December 2009

Using general models to solve local challenges... Is that feasible?

Lately, I've been working on a project on knowledge transfer. The project covers a number of countries in Europe, mostly in South- and Central- Europe. The most important challenge for the project is to create an effective methodology for potential knowledge users, which, if followed, would allow them to get a pretty accurate first impression on the potential "value" of knowledge that they plan to invest on.

Obviously, there are many factors that affect the "value" of knowledge. To start with, the term "value", in this case, refers to a subjective value, which takes into consideration the skills and previous record of the specific potential knowledge user. Then, there are numerous parameters that cover aspects like the interlinks of the new knowledge with existing know-how in the company, its proximity to the current market of the organisation, its stage of development, the investment required to adopt it and introduce it to the production process, the running costs and the expected income, the new skills it may require to use, etc. But the hardest part of all is to accommodate for the different practices of entrepreneurs in the various countries the project covers and the differences in the quality or quantity of the input that one can expect.

Companies of similar sizes operate in different ways across countries. Talking about the food sector, good networking with researchers, for instance, is more likely to be the case in the north of Europe than in the south. Risk capital is also, typically, harder to get in the south or east of Europe than in the west. But also the consumers behave differently, which makes the local companies to have somehow different priorities.

At this point, I think that the one-size-fits-all policy is hard to be applied to real life challenges such as knowledge-transfer involving small or medium enterprises. What I think is feasible, is to create a model, which can then be tailored to the needs/ practices/ preferences of its potential users at the local level.

(photo: "Blue Porcelian Globe Illustration from 3D Clay Model", Arctotraveler)

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