Education, Knowledge & Economy is an international journal that aims to facilitate the dissemination of high quality theoretical advances and empirical research, but it aspires to be more than that. It aims additionally to establish a forum for debate in and between the fields of education, business, economics and management, and to create a forum wherein practitioners and academics can exchange and cross-fertilise ideas. The journal is critically orientated and research-focused, and consciously promotes an interdisciplinary approach to conceptual endeavour, both qualitative and quantitative, in these related areas.
The timing of the journal is fortuitous. The relationship between schooling and economic well-being, mediated by the need for education and the acquisition of knowledge, has never been more important. It is an expanding relationship, the importance of which is overtly recognised by government and practitioners in today’s knowledge-intensive, post-production economy. Yet our understanding of how these critical fields, each declaring and protecting its tribal interest, can interact is under-theorised and research remains inconclusive in respect of the theoretical complexities involved. The disciplines remain divided by the great eviscerating contraries of commercial and not-for-profit, empirical and deductive.
Unfortunately, this deficit has led not to more debate, but to less contestation. Foucault’s notion of parrhesia or freimüthigkeit springs to mind in this respect: speaking frankly to those in more powerful positions and at some professional risk to oneself is the essence of a debate-centred research community that can move forward theoretically, even if it means abandoning the quest for seamlessness. Our journal attempts such a purchase: to gain a more open and complex theoretical framework for understanding how education, business and the economy can profit from an interchange of ideas, and if necessary disturb the even tenor of established practice.
Research papers and essays submitted to Education, Knowledge & Economy undergo two anonymous peer reviews. We are keen to encourage discussion (and discursiveness) in all areas within the journal’s remit, but without sacrificing robustness. Occasionally, we will publish ‘futures thinking’ articles around a current or controversial topic and we intend to be relatively frequent in commissioning themed issues, while retaining a heterogeneous and interdisciplinary outlook that is supportive of creativity.
The current issue offers a flavour of what we are about, having as it does contributions from ten leading universities in six countries across three continents. Carr and Gannon-Leary (Universities of Edinburgh and Northumbria) write on the obstacles to diffusing management-learning technologies from Higher Education Institutions into Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, and the incidence of informal support for learning. In a paper that echoes the mission of this journal, Stefanou, Stefanou and Wen (Bucknell and Penn State) explore analogous frameworks (and unifying theories) of learning and economic decision-making, and how learners acquire and translate knowledge into action.
Gillies (Strathclyde) presents on the rhetoric and reality of ‘excellence’ in education, identifying three distinct interpretations and suggesting that its trumpeted importance is ‘a response to crisis narratives in official discourse’ and driven by attempts at importing private-sector tools into schools. Outside schools but still within the field of education and training, Bisschoff and Govender (Johannesburg) describe and analyse the management framework for providers of workplace skills in South Africa; and Gregori, Rodaro and Kostoris (Torino and Trieste) give us a statistical perspective on mixed-effects models of outcome-based assessment of institutions providing EU-funded professional development.
Returning to the UK, Turner and Robson (Newcastle) give the first of two papers on the Higher Education sector. Theirs is an exploration of the competitive and cooperative pressures to internationalise UK Universities and the effect of such tensions on academic communities. The other HE paper, and the third that relates to the fugue that is the European Union, is offered by Zantout and Dabir-Alai (American International University, London). In it, they describe post-production economies in the context of EU Higher Education policy and the role of universities in supporting knowledge economies in a single market with different HE systems.
A paper by Renand (Porto) contrasts Chinese and Western management culture and how they relate to education; and in an innovative essay, Rodriguez and Loomis (Wheaton) reflect on human capital and market standardisation, arguing that the rule-making function of institutions introduces an information distortion into markets that changes the rational pattern of resource allocation. Reflecting the theme of the earlier paper by Gillies, they posit that as markets expand, this distortion raises the price of individual talent and skills development, leading to a public-private information convergence in education that calls into question the arguments in favour of private-sector solutions to the development of human capital.
Best (Manchester) writes a coda on Basil Bernstein, and the agency and linguistic conceptualisation of social class. His paper outlines an interpretation of Bernstein at odds with that common adopted, going beyond his deficit model of educational failure to his radical reading of Durkheim.
Finally, for now at least, I would like to thank Taylor & Francis / Routledge (and especially Ian White) for their unstinting support, and members of the editorial board for their help in getting the project off the ground: Professor Gordon Boyce (Queensland University of Technology, Australia), Professor Y.C. Cheng (Hong Kong Institute of Education), Dr Paul Clarke (IQEA: Improving the Quality of Education for All, UK); Professor Donald Fisher (University of British Columbia, Canada), Professor Nick Foskett (University of Southampton, UK), Professor Richard Harrison (Queen’s University Belfast), Professor Daniel Hjorth (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark), Professor Glen Jones (OISE, University of Toronto, Canada), Professor Steven Letza (Liverpool John Moores University, UK), Dr Brent McKenzie (University of Western Ontario, Canada), Dr Alex Nicholls (University of Oxford, UK), Professor Martin Shanahan (University of South Australia), Professor Sam Stringfield (University of Louisville, USA), Professor John Taylor (University of Southampton, UK), Professor Simon Ville (University of Wollongong, Australia), Professor Leonard Waks (Temple University, USA), Professor Mel West (University of Manchester, UK) and Professor Mohamed Zairi (University of Bradford, UK).
A special word of thanks to Anna Lyon, executive editor, who labours selflessly on behalf of the journal: authors and callers to our journal office in Southampton give testimony to her dedication.
All of us believe that Education, Knowledge and Economy can make an appreciable difference to the way education, economics and business contributes to societal and individual well-being. We hope you will feel inclined to contribute.