Confronted with the “Helix Metaphor” Challenges

Mihai IONESCU Ph.D. – Executive President

Dumitru MIRON Ph.D. – Secretary General a.i.

National Association of Romanian Exporters and Importers (ANEIR)

 

ddThe characteristics of the present global revolution of knowledge and, in particular, the specific context of the knowledge-based society which is emerging also in European countries underline the importance of the helix logic in understanding the mechanisms of the progress of contemporary science and of its applications based on the two fundamental processes: innovation and learning.

 

Domestic collaborative culture of…foreign trade

Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) proposed a knowledge spiral that aims to explain how individuals and groups convert knowledge from a tacit to an explicit form and vice-versa and share both tacit and explicit knowledge. Subsequently, this model was developed by Nonaka, Toyama and Nagata (2000).Other relevant examples in this field are represented by the KMOLI helix put forward in order to approach the processes of managing knowledge, organizational learning (McLean and Page 2003), as well as the hierarchical helix, destined to shaping the process of managing knowledge (Sun and Hao 2006).The “Triple Helix” model can be defined as a partnership for knowledge and, consequently, may exercise a main role in the future development of the knowledge society in Europe and the rest of the world. During the last decades there has been a gradual emergence of collaborative inter-organizational relationships between government, businesses and universities. These relationships have been aimed at creating change in business operations and strategy and delivering improvements to a range of broadly defined environmental and social causes. National Association of Romanian Exporters and Importers (ANEIR) was established more than 20 years ago by Romanian specialized companies having the main aim to increase these undertakings’ capability to promote their specific interests in external trade towards Romanian public authorities. This associative architecture gathers more than 100 medium size companies having a large spectrum of activities and creating and implementing the main values of a collaborative culture, being responsible to collect fresh business ideas from its members, offering the possibility to debate drafts of specialized legislation, represent members’ interests in national and sectorial public and private bodies.

 

Discuss, discern and deliver

One of the main objectives of the association is to coordinate, in partnership with the Ministry of Economy, National Export Council in the frame of which there are functioning specialized bodies composed by high qualified experts who exchange ideas, take note of the main trends in international business, present and discuss the main components of the regulatory framework, make proposals and send valuable messages. Additionally, a very important activity of the association is to gather a large spectrum of information and database considered to be helpful for our members and putting it in real time at their disposal. By helping our members to take note in advance and prepare for attending most of the main international fairs and specialized exhibitions, we can contribute, in partnership with Romanian government, to promote Romanian companies’economic and commercial interests abroad. It is necessary to stress the fact that, in spite of some steps ahead in this respect, there are yet many bureaucratic barriers our members are confronted with. Our goal is to make all the necessary efforts to optimally represent our members’ interests. One can offer many examples of regulatory initiatives in which we were deeply involved and our members’ proposals positively contributed to the improvement of specialized institutional and legislative framework.

 

The „triple helix” and the engine of performance

At the ANEIR level there was understood since the moment of founding that the “Triple Helix” Model presents specific advantages for each of the three categories of the involved actors.

Our association’s members consider that the application of the model by businesses has a manifold value: expand long term and risky activities with the support of dedicated experts; obtain proprietary technology through licensing; closing better agreements; leverage funding through matching grant projects; collaborating research labs are source of new recruits. In frame of the continuous process of exchanging ideas and solutions and in different European funds financed projects, implemented by ANEIR in partnership with different universities or other educational institutions, appropriate curricular design transformations have been promoted and our organization pleaded for curriculum modularity, proving thatit knows the most modern trends in societal evolution. In our perspective, a new curricular design, in special in the field of international business and economics, could ensure: personalized educational tracks according to the needs of the learner; solving the contradiction of the traditional curriculum format with clearly defined disciplines and the requirements of the job related practices which require a high degree of interdisciplinarity; a high degree of professionalization through skills training and development through which the learner becomes gradually skilled and even expert in a certain area.

 

teamworkPrivate (business) – public (university) symbiosis

To implement a new partnership philosophy, it needs to be taken into consideration the fact that at present most companies are privately owned while the biggest universities are public. Research contracts signed by universities with businesses are still perceived as deprecating and the object of such a contract is considered rather opportunistic than strategic. The public-private cofinancing situations of some research projects represent rather the exception than a model to follow. Intellectual property rights are not yet clearly addressed and structured which makes the transfer of technology difficult and the possible spin-offs appear as centrifugal evolutions in relation with the universities.

Permanently, we’ve stressed the fact that for universities the adoption of the “Triple Helix” Model could ensure: excellent sources of funding with businesses and government sharing the load; funding allowing for critical mass of personnel and in general more efficient research; training of highly qualified personnel in sectoral related research good for job placements; helping remove stigma of “ivied walls”; research generally based on strategic needs with long range benefits to the community.

 

Smart, inclusive and friendly

In our strategic perspective, for public authorities the interaction with the business environment and the university as it is put forward by the “Triple Helix” Model could have some of the following effects: new industries and new products can lead to higher employment; financial benefits from taxes and duties; helps support strategic R&D initiatives; many products could be providing a better life style.

In our view, some of the most pressing weakness of the “Triple Helix” Model refers to the significant differences between the system of regulations on the basis of which the business environment, academic and government entities function. Thus, companies practice a logic of the equivalent exchange while universities – one of non-equivalent exchange. There are also differences among the decision making systems and practices: each category of actors operates with rules, criteria and decision making methods determined by their institutional characteristics. Even though is not impossible, it is indeed difficult to create a framework in which synergy can be generated through the actions and interactions of governmental officers (having a limited mandate and functioning within more or less bureaucratic institutional structures), representatives of the economic environment (with their fundamental interest of surviving in a very turbulent business environment and profit maximization) and members of the academic community(concerned more with ideas, innovation and latest methodologies and then being acquainted with the regulations of public institutions and the specific constraints of the business world).

 

A new business model by consolidated partnerships

Based on our own experience in being partners with governmental bodies, we do believe that, without a radical change in government behavior on the values of partnership with non-governmental actors, thereare small possibilities to commute towards a new collaborative paradigm.

There are many signs that entrepreneurs (full of initiative, organizationally structured and having the decision making mechanism) and the innovators (scientists from the academia, researchers) have been unwilling to also associate the governmental actors as well, therefore wasting valuable synergetic potential. In many cases, as representatives of the business environment, we were obliged to meet and discuss only with the leadership of universities and only very rarely with the teachers or researchers themselves. Many representatives of our member companies believe that the national decision making systems are strongly centralized, represented by numerous institutions in which bureaucrats do not understand the specific issues of the business world.

At our association level, it is very well understood that a new business model, placed in the „Triple Helix” logic, could be an important means to promote the partnership among consolidated structures (government – businesses – academia) and offer a package of opportunities to do more, to do better and to do different.

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