Among the fundamental conditions for sustainability is the capacity for individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, and societies to support innovation, which leads to new business and job creation, economic development, and future innovation in a virtuous circle.
In this interview, Elias G. Carayannis, founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Knowledge Economy, and a pioneer in research on the “quintuple helix” (the nexus of industry-government-academia-society-environment), reflects on the role that knowledge creation and dissemination plays in catalyzing innovation and economic opportunity.
Central to the themes of my research and publications is a broad, cross-disciplinary approach to developing more effective and efficient networks to leverage and maximize knowledge creation, sharing, and absorption; this, in turn, applies directly to the overarching goal of achieving smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth, which is right at the heart of the SDG8 goals. I explore such issues as the development of efficacious innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems that are enabled by what I call “quintuple helical” structures, represented by five intertwined strands or threads: government agencies and institutions, academics (research and education), industry, civil society, and the environment. Bringing together the interests of stakeholders from all of these elements of society has profound implications for the allocation and use of resources. Trying to achieve the best possible allocation of resources—and the research that supports industry and policy decisions—is closely aligned with SDG8.
It's one of the impacts we're very much keen to emphasize, promote, and support because that's really what we're all about; ultimately, we should be focused on serving citizens and addressing the grand societal challenges that are reflected and represented by the SDGs. Recent publications address such themes as democracy, the environment, and freedom, and the interactions, implications, and impact of environmental and climate change on the change of political regimes--and vice versa. We see that where there is greater capacity for democracy, there is likely to be more environmentally-friendly policies, but also practices and mindsets, which I think is not something strange or unexpected, but we're trying to figure out whether it is possible to identify not just high correlations but causalities.
With the pandemic we've had to enact social distancing and virtualize further social interactions, which can now effectively be considered part of the digital transformation process. One of the indirectly positive effects of the pandemic is the degree to which the research and development architectures, standards, practices, and designs could actually be accelerated. So, the issue here is that the different means for social virtual interaction—such as webinars, social media, and online publications—are now more than ever an appropriate way to communicate.
I would certainly feel that citizens in democracies are really our premier stakeholder, and research should be serving their needs and expectations, to empower the realization of their aspirations, because that's really the oxygen of democracy; i.e., to have people that can expect to dream for a better tomorrow. So this that certainly encompasses innovators, entrepreneurs, educators, people who engage in research, but also policy makers. I think all of them have a stake and a role and a presence in this.
My advice for researchers is to always consider the impact beyond your scholarly circle in academia. This is what I call “translingual” research outreach, getting beyond your narrow dialect, so to speak, or language of thought in your particular discipline.
As I say here, we have to become liberated from traditional constraints (such as a laser focus on the Impact Factor) and deal with currency and relevance of research to policy and practice, and that approach will serve to cultivate initiatives constitute the “P-5” building blocks: public-private-people-planet partnerships. And as you accomplish that, then you really have the ability for tremendous crossover reach, and not just a narrowly focused impact.
Elias G. Carayannis is Full Professor of Science, Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as co-Founder and co-Director of the Global and Entrepreneurial Finance Research Institute (GEFRI) and Director of the European Union Research Center (EURC) at the School of Business, The George Washington University in Washington, DC. Dr. Carayannis' teaching and research activities focus on the areas of strategic Government-University-Industry R&D partnerships, technology road-mapping, technology transfer and commercialization, international science and technology policy, technological entrepreneurship and regional economic development. He consults for a wide variety of technology-driven organizations in both government and the private sector, including the World Bank, the European Commission, the Inter-American Development Bank, the US Agency for International Development, the National Science Foundation Small Business Innovation Research Program, the National Institute of Standards and Technology Advanced Technology Program, the National Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (NACFAM), the USN CNO Office, Sandia National Laboratories' New Technological Ventures Initiative, the General Electric Corporate Training & Development Center, and Enterprises Importfab, among others.
Dr. Carayannis has published dozens of peer-reviewed articles, books, and reference works on science, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship, and serves as the Founding Editor of several Springer Nature projects, including the book series, Innovation, Technology and Knowledge Management (Springer), Arts, Research, Innovation and Society (Springer), and Democracy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Growth (Palgrave), the Journal of the Knowledge Economy, and the open access Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.