Macroeconomics and its symbolic dimension

The current process of transition to a society driven by knowledge gives to the problems of the symbolic dimension of economy an entirely new "social space." "Classical" enterprises specific to industrial societies have as their main characteristic correlation with material goods and their related services. They made their symbolic functions by mediating the material products. The driven by knowledge economy companies take different forms: ("knowledge-intensive-organizations)"[1] organizations based on "intangible assets."

Company's intellectual capital is a new concept of specific companies led by knowledge and considers "its knowledge,* experience, expertise and associated software assets, rather than physical hardware and financial capital."[2] In intensive thinking companies the "intellectual property expressed in systems, data banks, products, people and processes are more important than physical assets and financial capital."[3] Intangible assets have in view their people with high education and "tacit knowledge" possessed by them. Tacit knowledge is the knowledge from the "human head," i.e. that absorbed by humans, all that an individual assimilated during his life (by their own creation or learning from others). Being inseparable from its "carriers," its tacit knowledge differs from the explicit one, externalized through books, reports, lectures, theories, patents, technologies, etc.

The intangible assets are those found in and through intellectual capital, tacit knowledge, history and prestige of the organization, its culture specific values, etc. An enterprise economy driven by knowledge type, which produces knowledge, has knowledge as its main resource, intangible assets, is by its nature - "symbolically dependent." A company that manufactures and sells mostly material goods can demonstrate its real and virtual capabilities by presenting for evaluation its products, products that have to be independent of company staff.

An enterprise that legitimizes its competitive power through intellectual capital, social, intangible assets, tacit knowledge possessed by personal, market prestige, etc. has to demonstrate the validity of mainly symbolic aspects. The extent to which the company "produces confidence and prestige" cannot be treated as the one that produces shoes (material goods). The struggle for leadership is a fight whose "weapons" are symbolic elements. The symbolic asset management is complex and least developed.

Symbols are often promoted as metaphors. "A metaphor is a constructive falsehood," i.e. a linguistic device that allows us to understand a phenomenon through the mediation of another (...). Metaphors are not, in fact, true. For example, a computer, specifically, is not affected by virus.[4] Not every symbol takes the form of metaphor, but some of them have a strong symbolic function. Modern enterprises have been likened to a form of mechanical bureaucracies. The call to the term "mechanical" gives organizations and a symbolic sense: "The mechanical image assumed that organizations exist as instruments for fulfilling tasks."[5]

Gareth Morgan used as a metaphor for organizations (along with others) given by the phrase "mental prison" ("psychic Prisons") as a reversal of the "machine" metaphor. The "mental prison" metaphor symbolizes the hidden dimensions of day's reality."293 To the symbol of prison opposes now that of the "jazz band" as an expression of organizations that practice "real-time strategy" based on improvisation. The strategic improvisation and improvisation in jazz share many similarities. As jazz music groups invented music based on the team, many rehearsals and execution in real time, they have learned a lot about strategic improvisation by observing them."[6]

The metaphor "band jazz music" "translates" in the symbolic language in values: creativity, responsibility and collective cooperation. It marks the passing from routine work to "knowledge contribution" from the symbol of "symphony orchestra" to the "jazz team" symbol.[7] By its nature, the knowledge involves creativity, outstanding personal abilities. That is why the society driven by knowledge has as a symbol the term "elite" to that of "mass" (for the industrial society). Elite implies new mechanisms for selection and promotion. The symbol of "meritocracy" indicates the new process of mobility and access to status. "The central issue of emerging post-industrial society is the conflict generated by the principle of meritocracy that is the center of tension between populism and elitism which, by now, is visible, is a political issue in the community."[8]

Changes that will lead us to the new society takes place on two levels also correlated. "One is the real transformation (...). The second is the reflection of these real changes that occur, or will occur in the mental plane of ideas."[9] On this mental level, metaphors and symbols have foiled a major role in driving our economy's orientation and people's behavior. The phrase "driven by knowledge" is, in fact, a metaphor, because knowledge, as such, has no effect except human activity. Inserting this expression, against the old names ("knowledge society," "society based on knowledge") wishes to avoid a simplistic decoding by considering the new stage as a society where knowledge is used. Knowledge always stayed at "the base" of human activity." Above all, the Stone Age people have survived and prospered because they possessed knowledge, even though it was small." <<Knowledge society>> creates, indeed, a new real issue of innovation policy."[10]

Using this new phrase ("knowledge-driven-economy")[11] makes sense that it "moves" problem in terms of actual social leadership. In other words, the new society is characterized, among others ("but essential"), by the role that social groups who performs the "knowledge flow" tend to have one. It has been (already mentioned) the "new elite," the "knowledge class,"[12] "class expert"[13] which have the capacity and are intended to participate directly in decision making. Changing the composition of the main actors of development (from the specific industrial phase, to those of the new economy) raises new societal communication problems. The symbolic device specific to knowledge brings new opportunities and also new risks and difficulties.

The symbolism of the cognitive processes contains intrinsically more accurate and enlightening elements compared to communication using everyday language. All new relationships between different social actors are "carefully selected" by valuing grids given by the distinction between true-false, relevant-irrelevant, demonstrated unproved, matter of research-response, etc. Correlated, also the other values now involved in building the grid selection in decision making: utilinvalidity (technology), right-wrong (ethics), harmony with nature, contrary to nature (ecology), human-nonhuman (philosophy), allowed-forbidden (legal) etc. This new symbolic structure of societal relations has the risks resulting from their true difficulty decoding.

Generally, any new generating social change generates potential the danger of new vulnerabilities. Societal communication language involves some people education to understand one. The risk is to remove people from the great social debates due to the too "professionalized" symbolism that many do not understand. Specialists can turn into a "caste" with "closed," language, breaking away from the society. The creation of scientists and technology cannot be understood by "simple" people as bringing them direct benefit. "A new Frankenstein" may occur. "Frankenstein's creation becomes a monster only in response to the inhumane* behavior of men and women."[14] Science and technology must be "uncovered" by their symbolism hard to be understood for mass society. "Humanism should not, therefore, look the technology era as messianic, with utopian dreams fully able to be met, or monstrous, with enslavement and despair imminent but as an era of grave responsibilities, regarding the preservation of those things that really depend on the moral decisions made by contemporary women and men."

"Unveiling" correctly the science of its vague confusing symbolism, and its correlation with symbols, at the level of people's understanding, is essential, specific for the society that we like to achieve. "More specifically, the game is not played and is never played as long as people are aware of their limits, however great powers would be available through technology. To limit, regulate, control the technological change, to restrain the pace, to correct direction, to control the nature, they are the stake of 21st century, instead of accepting that life's regress and the end of human history. If technology is our destiny, it does not refer to a deity superior to man, the problem still depends on us."[15] The specialized language of specialists "matched" with a "claim" of "impartiality," "objectivity" can break their relationship with citizens.

The European Union has developed a special program of action on relations between science and society, which provides, among other things to bring science and technology close to citizens. "The relationship between science, technology and innovation, on the one hand and society on the other hand, must be reconsidered. The scientific activities are required to meet the needs and aspirations of European citizens to a greater extent as far."[16]

For this, people need to understand the language of science, to adhere to the objectives of its symbols. "First, people must become more familiar to science and technology. There will be essential in this respect, to give the science and technology greater importance in media and education in Europe, to encourage young people in a sense of action and increase their interest in scientific study and career."[17] Today knowledge "has become the primary resource and the path to power, prestige and wealth in the modern world"[18] and, thereby, new problems related to the symbolic dimension of the economy have emerged.

  • [1] Clegg, S. R. (1990), Modern Organizations. Studies in the Postmodern World. London: SAGE. (see Hoov, Kaarel (1996), "Models of Management," Theoretical Approaches, Towards Democracy in Organizations. Copenhagen, AIS, 150).
  • [2] Klein, David A. (1998), The Strategic Management of Intellectual Capital. Boston: Butterworth Heinemann, 1.
  • [3] Macmillan, Hugh, Tampoe Mahen (2000), Strategic Management. New York: Oxford University Press, 44.
  • [4] Drummond, Helga (2000), Introduction to Organizational Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press, 13.
  • [5] Ibid., 17. Ibid., 19.
  • [6] Perey, Tom Lee et al. (1993), Real-Time Strategy. New York: John Willey and Sons, XI.
  • [7] Ibid., 9.
  • [8] Bell Daniel, op. cit, 44.
  • [9] Popescu, Gheorghe H. (2003), The Meaning of Transition. Bucharest: Economic Publishing House, 107-108.
  • [10] *** (2000) "Innovation and Creativity and Technology Europe," Innovation and Technology Transfer. European Commission, June, 16.
  • [11] *** (2000), "New Light pr Innovation Policy," Euroabstracts. no. 4: 3.
  • [12] Bell, Daniel, op. cit, 221-222.
  • [13] Ibid, 228.
  • [14] Shepard N. E. (1980), "Technology. Messiah or Monster?" In Monster or Messiah?, The Computer's Impact on Society, W. U. Matheurs (ed.), Jackson University Press of Mississippi, 153 (x-is about those who use technology for inhumane purposes). 3°4 Ibid., 155.
  • [15] Solomon J. J. (1992), Le destin technologique. Paris : Balland, 13.
  • [16] *** (2002), Science and Society Action Plan. European Commission, 7-8.
  • [17] Ibid., 3.
  • [18] *** Knowledge and Learning. Toward a Learning Europe, p III.
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