Article of the Month -
Creating Favourable Conditions for Knowledge Society through
Knowledge Management, eGovernance and eLearning
Mr. Markku Markkula, Director, TKK Dipoli,
Helsinki University of Technology, Lifelong Learning Institute Dipoli
This article in .pdf-format
This paper has been prepared and presented as a keynote presentation at the
FIG Workshop on e-Governance, Knowledge Management and e-Learning in
Budapest, Hungary, 27-29 April 2006. This workshop was co-organised by FIG
Commissions 2,3 and 7.
Key words: Knowledge Society, Information Society, Knowledge
Management, Innovation, Intellectual Capital, Networking, Value Network,
Lifelong Learning, Information and Communication Technology, eLearning,
The aim of my presentation is to review the principal definitions of
policy and activities - within the limits set in the title - at national,
regional and organizational level. The perspectives are global, national and
local. My message is that all these levels, in decision making as well as
actions, have to be made to work along coherent lines of working culture,
with high profit expectations. In order for this presentation to be
practical, and so that it could be utilized around the world, I will
benchmark Finland with its latest global development, describing my own
experiences and findings both in theoretical concepts and in practice.
I will start with a brief summary of my presentation. Based on several
evaluation studies of the Finnish knowledge society model, the following
factors are fundamental for the knowledge-based economy:
- Creativity and innovativeness are the driving forces,
- Effective networking is a way of life in creating a shared knowledge
reality among both individuals and organizations,
- Increasing intellectual capital is the most important value base of
- Knowledge management and encouraging systematic lifelong learning are
the basis on building a concept of a learning organization,
- Future economic success is more and more built on national innovation
system with special emphasis on well-targeted regional innovation policy,
- Increasing investments in research and development play a crucial role
in governmental policy.
Networking, orchestration and shared leadership form the basis for the
ongoing paradigm shift. The basic values that support innovativeness in
creating the desired knowledge society are the basic values linked to
effective knowledge management: openness, trust, collaboration and knowledge
sharing. Several actors, which operate with the same shared vision, affect
the other actors in many ways. Shared leadership is based on the principles
of partnerships and joint developer networks. The level of effectiveness and
productivity needed in these organizations invariably requires new
e-mechanisms and the capability of combining diverse competencies to
increase the intellectual, structural and relations capital of all these
1. PARADIGM SHIFT FROM INFORMATION SOCIETY TO KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY
1.1 Understanding the Development
In order to understand more about the importance and complexity and the
deep core of knowledge processes in national policies the Finnish
Association of Graduate Engineers TEK created a few years ago an instrument
called the Technology Barometer (Naumanen, 2004). It can be described as a
globally unique instrument that measures the state of technological and
scientific expertise and development in a given country. The barometer is
based on data and models describing the three different development phases
of modern societies.
In the barometer, the definition for information society is focused
around investments in human and intellectual capital. That is, we measure
the level of basic education and schooling and the skills and knowledge of
the general public in the nation, and both public and private investments in
research and development.
The knowledge society produces commodities of high knowledge value.
Knowledge and expertise constitute the crucial elements in production, with
information and communication technologies comprehensively supporting
interaction, dissemination and exploitation of knowledge, plus the provision
and accessibility of services. In the Technology Barometer, the knowledge
society measures assess the gearing of the human and intellectual capital
investments towards science and technology, the use of information and
communications technologies, and the outcomes of these investments.
A knowledge-value society is an advanced form of the knowledge society.
Innovation, technology development, economic regeneration, openness to ideas
and their active exploitation are all inherent elements contributing to the
basic values and culture in the society. In the Technology Barometer, the
measures on knowledge-value society focus on entrepreneurship and venturing,
innovation networking, and adaptations of innovative practices in a nation.
The knowledge society produces commodities of high knowledge values.
These values bear the properties of high technique, high art and high skill.
These, operating together, increase the value of products and services many
times over when compared with their production costs. Many customers are
able to use them at the same time, in distant places, and they are not worn
out. In the knowledge society there is no principle of par value exchange.
The value of knowledge has no direct relation with the production cost. The
prices of products are based on markets, tastes, or preference of customers.
In the knowledge-value society, creative labour is a major factor. The
economy includes, and is mainly based on intellectual enterprises and
high-tech parks in which the entrepreneur has many roles, including the
scientist. The society is characterized by a positively synergistic
interaction of information, knowledge and affect. Leading companies develop
holistic models of corporate cultures built upon shifting duties, team
structures and high level of expedient personnel turnovers. Traditional
efforts to manage workers shift to managing relationships with increasingly
demanding customers and developer networks. The unit of analysis for
innovation is not a product or a technology, but a business concept (Hamel,
2000). Networks are becoming increasingly common, and the role of
innovations is growing. The key concepts include network form of
organization and growth based on social innovations (Himanen, 2004).
In the oral part of my keynote presentation, I will show some results of
the Technology Barometer studies. However, I am using it more as a frame to
describe the core contents of the ongoing change processes with respect to
human, organizational and economy-wide dimensions affecting our societies.
To make this analysis easier to follow, I will use the term knowledge
society to describe both of these knowledge intensive phases of the societal
development of the late 20th century and the early 21st century.
From the leadership and management perspective, the major challenge of
the knowledge society is that noteworthy innovations are based on complex
systems of technological know-how. Another aspect of the same challenge is
that the social processes of knowledge society are no longer created by the
traditional industrial society logic. Instead, one must create and maintain
innovative environments and the operating culture of value networks.
Leadership that gets results has changed its traditional ways of operating
both at national and regional levels as well as within communities.
Leadership that aims for and is based on rigid planning no longer guarantees
success. Instead, readiness to change, flexibility and delegating are the
most important catalysts that generate a competitive edge. Orchestration and
shared leadership form the basis for the ongoing paradigm shift. The basic
values that support innovativeness in creating the desired knowledge society
are openness, trust, collaboration and knowledge sharing.
The core processes of innovative environments cannot be managed without
active participation and the all-round delegation of responsibilities. This
refers to a situation where several actors in concert focus on the
development, and affect the other actors in many ways. Shared leadership
invariably requires new e-mechanisms and the capability of combining diverse
competences. In a dynamic operating environment, leadership requires the
capability to lead beyond the borders of the organizations and communities
from which the leader’s authority is derived. One has to be able,
proactively and in a self-guided way, to create something new in the
business environment, which is formed of complex and continuously changing
1.2 Finnish National Strategy to Become a True Knowledge Society
International competitiveness benchmarking shows that Finland is one of
the leading knowledge-based economies. However, only three generations ago,
Finland was a very poor country, with most of its population in agriculture,
largely dependent on its forest resources, only loosely integrated into the
main channels of capital, markets, and technology in the world, and with
limited public coverage of people’s needs.
Professor Manuel Castells has, through an extensive analytical study
(Castells and Himanen, 2002), concluded: “Finland stands in sharp contrast
to the Silicon Valley model. … This means that the welfare state and
cooperation between business and labour, mediated by the government, allow
the development of work flexibility within a stable system of industrial
relations. In the case of Finland, the state has played and continues to
play a major role in guiding economic growth and building the information
society in Finland.”
The Finnish model is based on high-level basic education and strong
commitment of all citizens to lifelong learning. The state has used
incentives, strategic planning and participatory mechanisms. The combination
of deregulation and effective providing and facilitating the public
infrastructure has stimulated growth. The state has acted as a promoter of
technological and social innovations, as public venture capitalist and
producer of knowledge labour, thus creating the conditions under which
Finnish business could restructure itself and compete globally.
Every process has to be a capacity building process. From the perspective
of individuals and organizations it is especially a competence development
process with special emphasis on attitudes and values of society. Recent
years have seen the introduction on an enormous scale of new methods and
means of interactivity and networking. New social and cultural innovations
are likewise being developed at a brisk pace. Thus it is very natural for us
to be engaged, fresh-mindedly and through broad cooperation, in seeking new
contents and ways of doing things also for democracy. The role of
parliaments is becoming even more crucial than before in developing science,
technology and innovation policy to increase the quality of life and human
Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Ms Riitta Uosukainen has highlighted
(Uosukainen, 2003) the role of parliaments in the following way:
”Decision making needs the support of knowledge, information and
expertise. Enacting laws is a colourful and challenging job in that we
must at the same time be able to foresee the effects they are likely to
have and how well they will function in practice. It is of the utmost
importance that the dialogue between researchers and practitioners of
science, on the one hand, and decision makers, on the other, functions
well and keeps to topical themes. Up-to-date research results facilitate
argumentation and the presentation of reasons supporting decisions.
This does not mean research results only, but rather a culture of
discussion in which researchers bring science into the social discourse.
Parliaments can through their own actions encourage researchers to engage
in a constructive discourse and interaction, from which each party
benefits. The Parliament of Finland has made its contribution to
strengthening this channel for discourse. Parliament’s Committee for the
Future is unique in the world. Through its activities it has made research
an integral part of parliamentary work. Our legislature has found the
tasks, which the Committee performs to be an appropriate way of supporting
our work of legislation.”
Prime Minister Mr. Paavo Lipponen characterized (Lipponen, 2003) the core
of Finnish policy by stating:
“Today, Finland is a knowledge-based society, or at least fast
progressing towards one. From the policy perspective, we see this largely
as a consequence of a long-term commitment to a society that facilitates
and promotes knowledge creation and diffusion - innovation, in other words
- a society that provides safe, interesting and socially sustainable
living conditions for the citizens.
Our science, technology and innovation policy is characterised by a
determined investment in knowledge and information. Instead of looking at
education, science or technology separately, these have been treated as an
operational whole - as a dynamic innovation system. In the light of
international evaluations, this strategy has been proven to be successful.
We may well assume that the success of a society will in the future
largely depend on its capacity to adapt to a changing environment. Hence,
emphasis should be given to the capacity to foresee different
technological and societal development paths and to assess the effects of
decisions relating to those.
According to the recent review by the Science and Technology Policy
Council of Finland, the promotion of innovations should not be restricted
to the boundaries of our national environment and to international
collaboration in its traditional sense. In order to better benefit from
globalisation, each country should thus internationalise its national
innovation system - the national institutions and their operations.
Furthermore, the Council draws attention to societal development.
Alongside with technological innovations, there is a need for determined
and broader promotion of social innovations, in order to ensure that
social development will not diverge from the techno-economic development
trend. In the view of the Council, this broader understanding of
innovation and its promotion should form the very core of our national
strategy for the coming years.”
Figure 1: The Finnish road to success
The globalizing economy demands tough competition and a high level of
expertise. The nation must ensure its ability to cope with competition.
Welfare cannot be maintained without sufficient economic resources. But
welfare is not just economic success. It is a broader concept. In order to
succeed, individuals and society must fresh-mindedly make forward-oriented
choices. They must strive to be in the vanguard of development in sectors
where they possess strengths. In 1997, the Parliament of Finland – as a
result of the work carried out by the Committee for the Future (figure 1) -
defined the following all-permeating success factors for Finland (Parliament
of Finland, 1997):
- In the view of the Committee, globalization, internationalization are
prerequisites for the success of the knowledge society. We must prepare
for internationalization and make use of its benefits on every level of
society. Companies, institutions of learning, political parties, civic
organizations, labour-market organizations and other interest groups must
all make their own contributions to developing their international
- In the view of the Committee, information and knowledge are
fundamental factors in future success. Prerequisites for successful
endeavours include mutual trust between skilled personnel and other actors
in various sectors, cooperation and purposeful networking. By networking
we can improve the new strengths developing in Finland and the clusters
based on them.
- In the view of Committee, innovations in the services, industrial and
administrative sectors are essential for the success of the individual and
society. Culture as a source of creativity lays the groundwork for
innovations. Innovative activity and networking are particularly important
in education and work life. Innovation does not come from nowhere. The
culture in which activities take place must support fresh-minded thinking
and a search for new ways of doing things.
- In the view of the Committee, good governance of life and affairs
plays the key role in present era of strong transformation. The changes
that are taking place represent above all new challenges and opportunities
for every individual, every company and every community as well as for the
whole of society. They must be predicted and steered in the desired
direction. To a greater degree than in the past, citizens’ own activity
will determine the immaterial quality of their lives. Lifelong learning
must be adopted as the strategic foundation for Finland’s national
2. FOCUS ON THE LEVEL OF WORK ORGANIZATIONS
2.1 Work Culture is Changing
Modern ICTs have developed dramatically in recent years. The new
applications that have occurred may have a significant impact on the
innovation capability of companies. ICTs are multifunctional technologies as
the figure 2 shows, and they can be used for different purposes. It is the
specific use strategy that primarily influences the benefits that can be
gained from the application of ICT.
Figure 2: Various functions of modern ICT (Schienstock and
As ICTs made it technically possible and economically attractive to
codify various kinds of knowledge, previously remained in tacit forms, they
were traditionally used to automate operations as well as production and
administration processes. Thus they replace human labour with a technology
that enables the same processes to be performed with more preciseness and
continuity. As a labour-saving device, ICTs do not differ in any way from
traditional machines. However, different types of work and decision
processes are more or less amenable to developing routines and automation.
Since ICT has grown cheaper and more powerful, the number of work processes
that can be automated has increased. But even if we take into account
advances in artificial intelligence and the codification of tacit knowledge,
the potential for ICT to substitute for human work is limited. Managerial
work or professional work, which is more complex and cognitively demanding,
has proved less amenable to computerisation. Similarly, tasks that require
judgement, creativity, and frequent exceptions have also proved remarkably
difficult to automate with modern computers.
Innovation functions, we can conclude, are less amenable to automation;
as they depend to a great extent on human capital and tacit knowledge. This
development can be characterized to be one of the major megatrends
influencing the global labour markets. The key action areas for all western
societies are especially the following ones: 1) increasing competence and
innovation in working life, 2) transforming competence and innovation into
job-generating growth, 3) managing change in the work place and 4) managing
change on the level of the labour market (Information Society Council,
Highlighting the endorsement of competence and innovation as the guiding
principle the Council emphasized the imperative that the education of adults
already in the workforce is rendered a target of systematic measures. The
operating culture must focus on innovation and systematically enforce
positive synergies between development in technology and ways of functioning
in the different fields of society. The focus must spread from individual
professionals to the management and manifestations of competence in
organizations and national innovative environments.
The most essential question is how to transform competence and innovation
into employment-intensive growth. This requires an increase in
entrepreneurship, increasingly efficient interaction between the interfaces
of success clusters, more efficient conversation of innovations into
products and services, and the capacity to act efficiently in the global
market, enforcing the innovative capacity of employees and finding new
solutions to improve the opportunities for participation among groups at
risk of social exclusion.
The Council therefore suggests that the cultural development of work
communities and the methods of this development are selected as the most
central target of actions. The most pivotal targets are: 1) the culture of
working together, 2) the efficient exploitation of new information and
communication technologies, 3) work processes and process methods and 4)
innovation, anticipation and the management of innovations.
2.2 Value Network Management
The Parliament of Finland has approved the national strategic goal of
being the forerunner nation in innovativeness and education. The Parliament
has also determined that the objective of innovation is to create Finland
the world’s best innovative environment. These goals generate significant
challenges, especially for the development of regional and local innovative
environments, and for the development of those services and operating
cultures that foster networking (Parliament of Finland, 2005). The
fundamental preconditions for responding to these challenges can only be
created when innovations’ significant effect on productivity can be proved,
and when enterprises, other communities and citizens actually experience the
results of innovation and are ready to change their own operating cultures.
This all requires deeper understanding of innovativeness and characteristics
of innovation processes.
Since the year 2000, the Parliament and the Committee for the Future have
implemented several technology assessment projects in which a stand has been
taken on the creation of good innovative environments. The first of these
assessments handled the topic: “The impacts of knowledge management on work
and work culture”. It simultaneously created the base developed to
facilitate both the methods and the parliamentarians’ active participation
in the Committee’s creative assessment. The report was published in 2001. A
description of the results and the processes used, as well as their
implications in Parliamentary processes, was published in the spring of 2002
in English under the title: “Developing and Implementing Knowledge
Management in the Parliament of Finland”.
Responding to the aforementioned demanding challenges requires in
particular a deep understanding of regional and local innovation processes
as well as of mechanisms for creating something new. Research on innovation
has markedly increased in the last few years but too little attention has
been paid to the innovation processes of regional and local economies. The
Committee for the Future has chosen the creation of innovative environments
and innovation leadership in regional and local economies as the study topic
and the focus of assessment. In this way, the Parliament wants to cast
special attention on this vital area of policy for the future.
Innovativeness has become one of the most important success factors in
the modern economy. The internal human capital of the community, consisting
of traditional factors such as individual skills and of societal processes
and know-how in utilising them, has become an increasingly decisive success
factor within the resource structures of businesses and communities. In
addition to the internal factors, the capital of the community is made up of
the methods and the operating culture with which it manages its external
structures and relational capital, as well as with which it is able to
operate in various value chains and in the networks comprised by them.
The development of the knowledge society has brought systems intelligence
to the core of the success factors, i.e. the management of various logic
chains and networks. For a community to succeed it must - consciously or
subconsciously - control the value chains and value networks in its own
field and in its operating environment as well as the networks of persons
and communities that operate in them. The term value network refers to the
functional entity formed by actors of different backgrounds, competences and
roles. Networking is based on partnerships where goals, processes and
earning logic are synchronised. As regards value networks, all actions
demand networking in a new way. Value networks are in a constant state of
flux. With the help of value networks, it is possible to understand the
interdependence and the multitude of inputs, results and gains, at least to
a reasonable extent.
Now when the operating environment is changing more and more rapidly,
traditional management with the aim of tight planning no longer guarantees
success. Instead, the ability to prefigure the future, and to shape it, has
become crucial. These, combined with effective knowledge management and
learning, enable the community to make wise choices and to ride on the crest
of change as a strong actor. It behoves every community, small and large
alike, to network and develop value concepts for itself that reflect its
operating environment and operating processes.
2.3 Intellectual Capital
The success of private and public sector organizations is largely based
on their intellectual capital and their ability to utilize it. By
intellectual capital we mean the non-physical value sources of an
organization – resources that produce value in the future. Especially in
knowledge intensive organizations such as, for example, many public sector
organizations, the intellectual capital forms most of the resource base of
the organization. Therefore, it is important that production strategies
support the development of products based on the quality of their contents.
Intellectual capital can be classified as follows:
- human capital, which is owned by individuals, and includes
competences, personality traits, attitudes and education
- structural capital is owned by the organization and includes values
and culture, processes, documented information and immaterial rights
- relations capital, such as customer and subcontractor relationships,
trust, image and brand
Figure 3: The importance of relations capital is growing
The illustration in the figure 3 uses the simple metaphor of a house to
describe how the different types of capital are linked together. I focus
here on only one of them – although it is perhaps the most complex – that of
organizational competences. The research presents six key findings (Taatila,
2004) that form a foundational stance for the concept:
- The expression organizational competence refers to an organization’s
internal attributes that enable it to reach its targets.
- The number of attributes of organizational competence is large –
theoretically the number is unlimited.
- All of the attributes of total organizational competence can be
classified under three separate super-attributes: assets, competence of
the individuals and structural competence.
- An organization’s environment is not an attribute of organizational
competence, but it has a constant effect on the competence attributes and
the competence requirements.
- Different stakeholders have different goals for the organizations, and
thus organizational competence is observer-specific.
- The use of the concept of organizational competence is context
specific; thus the required set of competences depends dynamically on the
These key findings result into a general definition of the concept: when
we speak about organizational competence, we speak about an organization’s
internal capability to reach stakeholder-specific situation-dependent goals,
where the capability consists of the situation-specific combination of all
the possible individual-based, structure-based and asset -based attributes
directly manageable by an organization and available to the organization in
3. INFORMATION SOCIETY AND eGOVERNANCE
3.1 A Vision Created in the Mid 1990’s
At the end of 1990’s Finland had, by making some heavy structural and
mental changes, recovered from a deep recession and high unemployment, which
hit our economy in 1991-93. As a starting point for the National Information
Society Programme the following statement was formulated: ”Finland needs a
vision and strategy in order to be able to make full use of the
opportunities inherent in the Finnish information society and to ward off
the threats involved. Owing to rapid pace of development, the strategy has
to be constantly revised.” As its basis the programme emphasised high
quality and decentralised activities in order to get the different
stakeholders actively involved using common guidelines. The stress was on
commitment but crucial, in terms of the mental shift, was the fact that the
most important ideas and proposals had been made and the foundations for
societal and cultural change had already been laid years, maybe decades
earlier. The changes, therefore, had active and knowledgeable supporters and
Although constrained by heavy financial pressures, also the top
decision-makers, now almost unanimously, believed in the necessity of
investments in technology, R&D and innovations, in other words, competences.
The vision was formulated as follows: ”Finnish society develops and utilises
the opportunities inherent in the information society to improve the quality
of life, knowledge, international competitiveness and interaction in an
exemplary, versatile and sustainable way.”
The goal in the Finnish information society initiative was to (Finnish
National Fund for Research and Development SITRA, 1998):
- increase welfare and offer jobs and income
- provide equal opportunities for the acquisition and management of
information and for the development of knowledge
- improve conditions for entrepreneurship and the quality of working
life and to promote competitiveness
- increase opportunities for human interaction and cooperation
- strengthen democracy and opportunities for social influence
- improve security and the individual's data protection and status as a
- develop services and cultural provision and increase international
- boost Finland's attractiveness as a location for innovative
- alleviate inequality between regions, and
- support the objectives of sustainable development.
At that time, in terms of international comparison, Finland was in the
absolute forefront of information society development. Finland has made a
substantial investment in education, training, research and development.
Information and communications technology (ICT) products have significantly
contributed to the growth of Finnish exports. The action plan (figure 4) to
implement the IS programme played a crucial role in answering the
challenges: the ageing of the population, high unemployment rates and the
hectic pace of working life, together with shortages of competent workers in
It was emphasised that the provision of electronic services and contents
should respond to people's needs in different life situations and be
accessible to all on different terminals. One central need is to increase
interaction between people, and to promote interaction as an attribute of
service. The content and service processes should be renewed from the
viewpoint of electronic markets in local, national and international
collaboration. The statutes governing electronic services should promote
data security and the consumer's position. Open service interfaces promote
Figure 4: Action plan to implement the national vision
In the mid 1990’s there were a large number of ongoing joint projects
geared to developing the information society. Synergy between these
projects, eliminate overlapping and doubling, and thus reduce costs was seen
as essential. Development networks were created between existing and
starting projects in order to enhance knowledge and information transfer,
and the compatibility of the services being developed. The spearhead
projects listed below, and the development networks relating to them, were a
concrete way of promoting the stated objectives and principles of
The public sector promoted cooperation and made some funding available to
the spearhead projects in order to generate useful services, action models
and other outcome, and to promote wide-scale application of the results in
society. The topics defined covered the following spearhead areas:
- Cultural and information products and services
- Electronic transactions and service processes
- Personal navigation
- Electronic learning environments
- Knowledge-intensive work
- Business networking and teleworking
- Local information society
Some of the most important factors influencing the positive development
in Finland are closely related to eGovernance. An effective and transparent
public administration is a competitiveness factor and in the IMD
International Institute for Management Development and WEF World Economic
Forum competitiveness rankings during the last ten years government
efficiency has been one of the keys for Finland’s success. Simplifying the
regulations brings the biggest gains, and the timing and effectiveness of
changing the laws has been successful. The use of ICT is important and it is
increasingly supported by a customer-centric view instead of
administration-centric. Rules of the administration procedure are more
transparent than in most other countries. There are a lot of signs that the
public sector working culture is changing its operational structures by
applying the best principles and methodologies of engineering and business
The meaning of technology increases all the time - even so that it will
pass through everything and the effects are such that they often go
unnoticed by the citizens. The role of “e” (information and communication
technologies) can be simplified with the figure 5.
Figure 5: Digitalization: “e” is not just technology
In Finland, we have built new success factors throughout our working life
by creating and linking together new creative activities in all the
- Open access & Welfare Society & ICT,
- Motivation and enthusiasm towards lifelong learning and
- Research, development and multi-disciplinarity,
- Enrolment to higher education,
- eGovernance and eLearning,
- Global competitiveness,
- Knowledge management at individual and organizational level,
- Continuing education linked with work,
- Quality and productivity,
- Innovative learning and working environments.
Both the political commitment to the necessity of change, and a strong
financial support are crucial since the eGovernance is the matter of
executive managers, not just IT-managers. The eGovernance activities and
public management reforms need to be integrated, and there is a need for a
change oriented eGovernance strategy that is integrated to the overall
strategy within each agency. The processes need also to be revised or
reformed. It is clear that the public sector can with a committed
partnership policy be a ”primus motor” to introduce the policy of social
innovations which are based on the applications of the latest technological
4. eLEARNING AND KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
4.1 Vision = Learning at a New level
The key to success in the future will continue to lie in new
knowledge-based products and services. Information technology and knowledge
must be used to modernize traditional material production, as well as the
service sector. Success in the future presupposes an abundance of
innovations. These will emerge from basic and applied research, the results
of which are put to use in product development. In Finland, the state and
companies have, since the mid-1980s, been constantly increasing their
spending on research and product development, reaching the level of 3,4 % of
GDP already in the year 2000. Thanks to this, advanced technology’s share of
exports grew from 6% to 20% in the 1990s, a decade that saw a doubling of
This development is an example for the rest of Europe, especially when
taking into account the difficulties in implementing the Lisbon strategy.
One of the key success factors being approved by the European Council is to
raise the R&D expenditures to 3% of GDP by the year 2010 – this seen as a
key for economic growth.
In the new kind of knowledge economy, the attitude to knowledge is
different from what it was earlier. Knowledge is capital, which need not and
must not be saved. Knowledge is like joy: it increases when it is shared and
is replenished only when squandered. In the past, knowledge was power, which
could be "kept under the mattress" or used only to achieve one's own
purposes and dominate others. Power belonged to the few and the smaller that
oligarchy was the more of it they had. Advocates of the ideology of
knowledge management argue that thinking in relation to knowledge must be
altered in such a way that people understand that the distribution of
knowledge is power, power that belongs to us all. Corporate executives and
consultants emphasise that active networking is a precondition for
international success. One of the important aims in knowledge work is to
create new knowledge rather than merely to distribute or store what already
exist. People's subjective interpretations are more and more important in
knowledge work. Something that must be taken seriously, as a subject of
research, is the way in which the human mind works. This all means the need
for structural changes in education through effective visioning.
Combining systematic exploitation of information and communication
technologies (ICT) in teaching will improve learning results, when compared
to conventional teaching. This will also bring new dimensions to teaching
situations and the entire learning environment. Learning will be based on
learning by doing and discovery learning and supported by making the
learning environments and learning situations increasingly interesting.
In all phases of life, learners and teachers are challenged to develop
and even to change their personal work methods, in all work and learning
environments. Among other things, this requires the following changes in
work culture (Markkula, 2003):
- Commitment will be emphasised. Theory will be converted into action
compelling people to create a shared space. This “Ba space” will shift the
focus of action onto intellectual and virtual collaboration and a variety
of collaboration networks.
- Action and results will be emphasised. As part of lifelong learning
support, learners and teachers will create their own personal knowledge
management “tool boxes”, emphasising systematic development and the
results of action.
- Predicting the future will be emphasised. In lifelong learning,
learners and teachers will emphasise the regeneration of knowledge.
Consequently, the capacity and skills for critical knowledge processing
will be understood to be the most crucial factors in learning.
- Rising to the challenges of information and knowledge will be
emphasised. Learners and teachers will be able to use new learning and
work methods to manage increasingly larger information and knowledge
entities, and related sustaining networks.
- The basic knowledge management values – openness and trust – will be
emphasised. It is only in an open atmosphere of trust that people can
genuinely work and develop things together.
Information society development will provide people with new, realistic
opportunities to learn and develop their competencies on a comprehensive
basis, regardless of their place of residence. Various ICT solutions and
applications will generate new opportunities for the practical
implementation of regional equality, based on the provision of high-quality
learning resources throughout the country. Innovative, practice-oriented
local and regional projects will help consolidate the efforts in the users’
At its best, learning is a communal process that involves, in a school
environment, for example, the learners, teachers, parents, and their
immediate vicinity. New methods and possibilities for learning are
increasingly emphasising the communal character of learning and learning by
doing, with the ICT development contributing by creating new learning tools
and associated technological solutions and applications. Over the past few
years, the development of ICT tools has focused on the interaction and
communication aspects. In terms of the learning process, it is not necessary
that one’s fellow learners and the required learning resources are all
present within a single physical environment.
Currently, Finnish eLearning competence is of a good international
standard, and can be promoted onto the highest global level through
determined development efforts. In a number of restricted sectors, we have
already reached the world’s highest level. Our objective is to make Finland
into a pioneer country in eLearning methodology and content production in
the global market, and a globally successful developer and producer of
method and content products, systems, and services.
4.2 Theory Meets Practice through eLearning Clusters at Regional Level
Different Cluster concepts of eLearning operations have already provided
deep-going experiences and proved to be effective, especially on a regional
level. The aim is to expand the network into a regional one integrating its
activities with regional development. The Cluster forms a context for
assembling regional networks for developers with operators from other
regional networks and participating programmes.
The Cluster’s multidisciplinary applied research seeks solutions to the
challenges of regenerating learning and teaching, such as those imposed by
breaking limits between educational institutions, internationalization, and
Figure 6: Activity areas of eLearning cluster (Markkula, 2003)
The aim of the Cluster is to quickly make the latest research results
available for the development of teaching and training projects, and, in
return, to receive feedback from the field to initiate new research (figure
6). At the same time, co-operation is promoted between the various levels
and fields of education and training. In the Finnish experience the
Cluster’s multidisciplinary research activities support the development of
the Finnish Virtual University, Virtual Polytechnic, and Virtual School.
Virtual teaching projects provide an excellent environment for
experimentation and research, with the possibility arising to apply research
results to network-based teaching without delay. This means that research
and practice continually interact.
The best known of the Finnish experiences is the Tampere eLearning
Cluster. A great deal of positive experience has been gained from using the
Cluster’s collaboration model. The Cluster can be viewed as an improved
model of a network-based organization. Its birth was based on a “grassroots”
initiative from a number of institutions, with educational institutions,
university departments and other units joining in due course. Each of the
new participants had various reasons and interests for joining, such as
research collaboration, further training and post-graduate studies,
international development projects, or a general need for knowledge
acquisition and keeping up-to-date with developments.
The best way to organize the Cluster’s operations is to have a lean and
flexible structure. This enables fast reaction to changes in the eLearning
field. One of the Cluster’s operational preconditions is that the
organizations and participating individuals commit themselves to the
activities pursued, and this has been achieved quite successfully. Joint
activities are not planned and implemented by the steering group alone.
Instead, the organizations have used active contact persons and successfully
promoted networking and participation in the Cluster’s activities. The
Cluster’s premise is to invariably connect collaboration with the unit’s or
individual’s own activities. This means that collaboration is not an extra
task but a real benefit to the participants.
The Cluster has both internal and external assignments. Cluster members
mutually learn and develop collaboration and their division of work, for
example, in project preparation and teacher training. The Cluster serves its
members and other operators by providing information on eLearning events,
and organizing seminars, for example. The Cluster is also a negotiating and
collaborating partner. It represents its members and markets eLearning
expertise and competence in the field. In large-scale internal undertakings,
for example, a major consortium creates an atmosphere of trust. Individuals
also benefit from being members of a larger entity when embarking upon a
The Tampere eLearning Cluster operated in close cooperation with an
extensive eTampere initiative. They were both organized as projects and are
now already closed after operating for several years. Their strengths were
found in their multidisciplinary activities, interaction between theory and
practice, and collaboration between various operators. The Cluster’s aim was
to be a pioneer in developing new innovative eLearning technologies and
applications, especially from a user-friendly perspective.
The Cluster’s research and development units focused on the following
research themes, among others
- Evaluation of eLearning: accessibility, usability, feasibility,
- Integration of Information systems
- Mobile learning
- Edugaming: potential of games, game design, pedagogy and technology
- eLearning for citizens.
4.3 Systematic Knowledge Management Development
Increasingly opportunities are emerging through the development of
information networks and software packages for systematic knowledge
management development. The global sources of knowledge are available at
work places and educational establishments – any place where there is a
computer with an Internet connection. The deployment of web-based work
methods along with the development of group-specific methods will increase
the teams’ and communities’ results, especially in cases where the people
are mobile and when working permanently in a joint physical space is not
possible or expedient.
Working together is also learning together. The use of virtual networks
and new user-friendly software packages will profoundly change people’s work
and study habits, within the foreseeable future.
Building a learning organization involves managing change where the
leaders must pave the way and show an example. The management will have a
decisive role to play in generating and maintaining the required positive
spirit. Sharing the knowledge capital presupposes an open attitude of trust.
Even here, the management will be in a key position. The management must
also have the courage to move from interaction towards learning together so
as to be able to act as a real model.
Success and innovation thrive in a learning organization atmosphere, since
it is here that knowledge surpasses the division of labour, job descriptions
and hierarchical boundaries, and finds its way to providing the subject
matter for new insights.
When looking for innovation, we must have the courage to break
boundaries: it takes courage to combine totally different themes from
various fields and cultural backgrounds. In addition, combining the various
elements requires a considerable amount of time. When setting the targets,
we must remember to leave ample time for change. A frequent mistake is to
reach for too much too quickly. And if the results do not meet the
expectations, people quit the job in hand, even though the process is only
Developing the methods of individual and communal knowledge management –
the creation and use of a toolbox culture – is the basis for learning
organizations. The Knowledge Management Dynamo (KM Dynamo, figure 7) is a
knowledge management concept that has been described, for example, in the
report: “Developing and Implementing Knowledge Management in the Parliament
of Finland” (Suurla, Markkula and Mustajärvi, 2002). The concept is intended
to help individuals and communities in their determined effort to improve
their work cultures. The dynamo is based on values, their significance for
both individuals and communities, and the necessity of goal-directed action.
- In the first phase, theory and practical exercises are used to realise the
importance of basic knowledge management values (openness and trust). People
learn how to consciously develop and change themselves. Similarly, people
become aware of their work method values (collaboration and sharing of
knowledge) that are resolutely applied and developed on a continual basis,
to achieve spiritual and operational strength for the community in question.
Figure 7: Knowledge Management Dynamo
- In the second phase, people learn to work together in order to
internalise their values. In this phase, the driving force will emerge
from realising the change in progress and from people’s will to develop
themselves and their attitudes. This phase is used to describe the
fostering of values as the capacity and ability of an individual, with a
passion for learning, to surpass his or her personal limits and learn to
work with other people.
- The third phase describes the methodological basis of conscious
change. Achieving the described ideal state (surpassing one’s limits with
others) requires new work methods and by using them the prevailing work
culture can be changed and developed in practice.
- The fourth phase describes what is required to launch a continuous
regeneration process. Learning competencies, creation processes, a dynamic
Ba-space, and virtual networks are all dynamic processes that communities
must use and develop on a continual basis. The described systematic
development and regeneration will ensure that the issues in hand will not
become blocked, and that learning and values will function in the
community’s daily activities.
Ba (space) is a multidimensional concept, the creation of which,
especially, has been studied by Ikujiro Nonaka, a professor from Japan.
Here, space is used to refer to a point in time, a location and culture
between people, which promotes working and learning together. It has been
observed that, from the point of view of knowledge dissemination and the
diffusion of new ideas, open work spaces are more favourable than closed,
isolated office rooms. However, even a good physical space is not sufficient
as such, due to the fact that people’s spiritual culture is decisive. Ba
thinking will enhance networking and the exchange of ideas between people.
Improving the functionality of Ba-spaces is a common cause for all parties.
Developing the methods used in joint activities and systematizing the
meetings of experts from various fields will increase the possibilities of
benefiting directly from Ba-type activities.
Ba is a multidimensional forum of activities and an environment with
constantly changing boundaries where people share, create and exploit
knowledge together. This takes place both in the people’s thinking (sharing
ideas) and in their actions (working together). The creation of knowledge
calls for an encouraging environment and frame of reference due to the fact
that the context provides the knowledge with meaning. To be able to
interpret knowledge and create meaning, man needs a social, cultural and
historical reference frame.
To be an efficient, innovative and responsible knowledge worker, a person
must be capable of exploiting the knowledge and expertise produced by other
people, be able to develop his or her core competence on a continual basis,
know how to operate in networks, master ICT, and be able to build such a
space where he or she can co-operate with others. On this level, the
challenge is encountered in changing the work methods towards systems
thinking, in the deliberate combining of various technological tools and
methods, and in continuous development of one’s own work methods, and in
developing new ones.
The central issue in working and learning together in knowledge
management is the will to use and develop documented, visual work methods
for the purpose of promoting the generation of a communal work culture.
Bringing about the desired work culture requires sustained long-term effort
to improve one’s own work and the entire community’s activities. At the same
time, a systematic approach will be developed to enhance joint activities.
eLearning can provide significant opportunities for this.
- Castells Manuel and Himanen Pekka (2002). The Information Society and
the Welfare State: The Finnish Model. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Finnish National Fund for Research and Development SITRA (1998).
Quality of Life, Knowledge and Competitiveness. Sitra 211, Helsinki.
- Hamel Gary (2000). Leading the Revolution. Harvard Business School
Press, Boston, MA.
- Himanen Pekka (2004). Challenges of the Global Information Society.
Committee for the Future, Parliament of Finland. Helsinki.
- The Information Society Council (2005). Towards a Networked Finland.
The Information Society Council’s report to the Finnish Government.
- Lipponen Paavo Prime Minister of Finland. Keynote address at the
Unesco Round Table Meeting, Helsinki, January 13, 2003 (Unpublished).
- Markkula Markku (2003). eLearning in Finland. Encancing
Knowledge-based Society Development. Gummerus. Jyväskylä.
- Naumanen Mika (2004). Technology Barometer. The Finnish Association of
Graduate Engineers TEK, Helsinki.
- Parliament of Finland, Committee for the Future (1997). Report of the
Special Parliamentary Committee for the Future. Part 1 “Finland and the
Future of Europe”. Helsinki.
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Innovative Environments. Technology Assessment 23, Helsinki.
- Schienstock Gerd and Hämäläinen Timo (2001). Transformation of the
Finnish innovation system: A network approach. Sitra Report series 7.
- Suurla Riitta, Markkula Markku and Mustajärvi Olli (2002). Developing
and Implementing Knowledge Management in the Parliament of Finland.
Committee for the Future, Parliament of Finland. Helsinki.
- Uosukainen Riitta Speaker of the Parliament of Finland. Opening speech
at the Unesco Round Table Meeting, Helsinki, January 13, 2003
- Taatila Vesa (2004). The Concept of Organizational Competence – A
Foundational Analysis. Jyväskylä Studies in Computing 36. University of
Mr. Markku Markkula, MSc (Tech)
Mr. Markku Markkula is the Director of the Lifelong Learning Institute
Dipoli of Helsinki University of Technology TKK. TKK Dipoli is one of the
largest continuing education providers among universities in its field in
Europe. The Institute, whose annual turnover totals to 12 million euros,
employs about 110 staff members and engages about 1,500 visiting lecturers
per year. Mr. Markkula’s special competence areas are: professional
development, knowledge management, learning organization, lifelong learning,
e-learning, regional policy, national innovation systems. He has published
several books and given hundreds of conference presentations, as well as
written numerous articles on these issues.
Mr. Markkula was Member of the Finnish Parliament 1995 - 2003. As MP he
was a member in two permanent Committees: the Committee for Science,
Education and Culture, and the Committee for the Future. He served as the
President of EPTA Council, European Parliamentary Technology Assessment
Network in 2001. He contributed as a member to the EU High Level Expert
group on Technology Foresight in 2001-2002. Between 1989 and 2001 Mr.
Markkula worked as a part-time Secretary General of IACEE, the International
Association for Continuing Engineering Education in 1989-2001.
Mr. Markkula is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of EuroPACE –
European Professional Association for Collaboration in eLearning. During the
years 1992-2005 he served as the Chairman of the Board of the Finnish
Association of Graduate Engineers TEK (60,000 members). He is the Chairman
of the Board of the Finnish Information Society Development Centre TIEKE. He
is the Chairman of the University Continuing Education Network in Finland.
In 1996 Mr. Markkula took up chairmanship of the national campaign
committee for the European Year of Lifelong Learning. In addition, he
represented Finland in the EU Lifelong Learning ad.hoc. committee. He has
been chairing the Continuing Education Working Group of the European Society
for Engineering Education SEFI 1987-1992, as well as from 2004. In 2002 he
was appointed by the Finnish Ministry of Education to operate as a
One-Man-Committee to make recommendations for the Finnish eLearning policy.
This work was completed in 2003 and the report published in 2004.
Director Markku Markkula
P O Box 8000
Tel. +358 9 451 4000
Fax + 358 9 451 4490
Web site: www.dipoli.tkk.fi