Ireland's knowledge economy policy: beliefs, drivers and prospects

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Sexton, Laura Alice
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University College Cork
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This dissertation critically examines Ireland’s knowledge economy policy, the country’s basis for economic recovery and growth, to enhance future policy decisions and debate. Much has been written internationally on the ‘knowledge economy’ with its emergence closely related to globalisation and technological progression in the 1990s. Since the late 1990s, Irish policy-makers have been firmly committed to positioning Ireland as a leading knowledge economy. Transforming the country’s competitive base to a knowledge economy is pivotal, directly shaping the course of Ireland’s economy and society. Given Ireland’s current economic crisis, limited resources, global competition from leaders in science and technology and growing challenges from emerging economies, a systematic study of Ireland’s major competitive policy is imperative. Above all, this study explores the processes behind the policy and the multiple actors from different institutions who follow and seek to influence decisions. The advocacy coalition framework is used to identify the advocacy coalition operating in the knowledge economy policy subsystem. The theoretical insights of this framework are also combined with other public policy approaches, providing complementary insights into the policy process. The research is framed around three elements - the beliefs underpinning the policy; who is driving the policy; and the prospects of the policy. Primary information is collected by way of semi-structured in-depth interviews with 49 Irish elites (politicians, senior bureaucrats, academics and business leaders) involved in the formation and implementation of the policy. This study finds that a strong advocacy coalition has formed in this policy subsystem whose members are collectively driving the policy. Both exogenous and endogenous forces help frame a common perception of the problems the policy addresses and the solutions it offers. Evidence suggests that this policy is a sustainable option for Ireland’s economic future and the study concludes with policy recommendations for advancing Ireland’s knowledge economy.
Knowledge economy
Sexton, L. A. 2014 Ireland's knowledge economy policy: beliefs, drivers and prospects. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
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