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  • 1. International Conference on Leading beyond the Horizon: Engaging the Future (ICLBH-2011), 28 – 30 July 2011 Annamalai University, India. Why are we here? The nature, development, dissemination and implementation of knowledge. de Run, Ernest Cyril Universiti Malaysia SarawakGreetings,I thank you for this opportunity to speak to you. I am honored and humbled by this invitationthat you wish to hear from an academician cum administrator from across the sea. I struggledfor a topic of interest for some time and finally decided of speaking to you from my heart, toencourage you to do more than what you have done and at the same time to extol you on whatyou have done.As we gather here today, as academic and perhaps even practitioners, one matter of concerncomes to my mind, as to why we gather. Why a conference? I am aware of the standard reasonsprovided by many, including myself, but am more concerned as to the nature of knowledge, itsdevelopment, dissemination and perhaps even its sharing and final outcome betweenacademicians and practitioners.I have been to India a couple of times and I am impressed by the fact that there seems to be acloser network, working together, and relationship between faculty and business, academicianand practitioner. Please do correct me if I am wrong, but I believe all academia needs thiscloseness with the business world, just that perhaps this relationship can be developed further.Yet I have never really seen the end results of such closeness aside from job creation. I alwayswish for more.The nature of knowledgeAmong the many reasons we have conferences is to share our knowledge through thepresentation of our work, the creation of networks, and the necessary public relations to buildand develop the institutions name and regard among the community. But to whom do we shareour information and as to how much of our information is understood and actually worked on.This brings me to the first point that I raised earlier, the nature of the knowledge created.In India in 2009, there were 378 universities, over 20,000 colleges and about 10 million studentspursuing higher education in India (Anonymous, 2009). The numbers are huge, impressive.Nevertheless, what new knowledge have I heard in the field of business, that has been 1
  • 2. transmitted to the world, that has been created in the business arena. Maybe, perhaps, theinverted pyramid model.All knowledge stems from either the conception of reality or the perception of reality. Mostscientists seek to describe reality by using perceived observations to develop generalizedconcepts. We have deductive and inductive methods of understanding knowledge. All this isdescribed under the term Epistemology, meaning knowledge science, which looks at the natureand scope of knowledge. It addresses the questions: What is knowledge? How is knowledge acquired? How do we know what we know?There is many types of knowledge, but what is of concern here is known as “Knowledge that,”“Knowledge how,” and “Knowledge by acquaintance.” For example: in mathematics, it isknown that 2 + 2 = 4, but there is also knowing how to add two numbers and knowinga person (e.g., oneself), place (e.g., ones hometown), thing (e.g., cars), or activity (e.g.,addition). In the inverted pyramid example the “knowledge that” most of India’s customers arefrom the lower income group is well established. This then creates a need for a “knowledgehow” and a “knowledge by acquaintance.” There is a need for knowing how to work with thetwo variables, low income and large purchase demand probability and the relevantacquaintances needed to create new knowledge. This new knowledge must then be usable forindustry. Here lies the dilemma for academicians in business and in many non-Westerncountries.Why a dilemma. Let us look at the filing of patents in India. Patents are an indicator of thecreation of new knowledge. In 2007, the total number of patents granted increased by 8X (since2006) and stands at 15,262. Now let’s do a comparison with China that provides a differentperspective. The State Intellectual Property Office of China (SIPO) received a total of 245,161 20-year patent applications in 2007. SIPO received approximately the same number of 20-yearapplications in 1997 as the Indian Patent Office did in 2007-08 (Anonymous a, n.d.).The development of knowledgeIf we use filing of patents as a proxy for new knowledge, the data seems to indicate that India isfar behind. Knowledge is like a wave. So many books have used this term to describe knowledge.Knowledge flows and as it does the very nature of knowledge changes. In Malaysia there havebeen calls for a K-Economy, which has yet to transpire. At the very least there is anunderstanding that the knowledge that exist, is not sufficient as everything has changed.The knowledge that our grandparents, no, perhaps even that of our parents may no longer beviable now, what more of the future. I am amazed at the gadgetry and immense development inthe mobile phone sector alone in Malaysia, what more about other sectors. I used to createnotes for my students on a computer and give out notes. At the best I used OverheadProjectors, with the plastic slides. Occasionally the specialized overhead projector that projectsfrom paper, a rarity because of its cost, was used, with oohs and aahs from the audience. Now Iuse email, Morpheous (similar to Blackboard), Facebook, Skype (yet to use the I-phone) to relateto my students and outside world. Sometimes the Luddite in me screams out to stop thisonslaught of machinery. 2
  • 3. Castells (2000) states that knowledge is not an object but a series of networks and flows. Thisties in with how our brain works, via nodes that are activated through a trigger, stimulating awider network of files that have been kept in memory. The creation and acquiring of newknowledge is a process and not a final product as when it is produced it is by then obsolete asnew knowledge is again created. Manuel Castells believes that knowledge is produced not in theminds of individuals but in the interactions between people. This view by Castells gives me thespirit to continue to meet in conferences.In order for knowledge to be created one needs an idea, time to do research, and a source offunding for the research project. Meeting in conferences are good because by meeting withothers, through the interaction with others, particularly those that do not see the world as youdo, will stimulate and create new ideas. I can also personally assure you that having new ideasalone is insufficient. One needs time. Time to contemplate, read, and actually do the research isextremely necessary. In social sciences, this may either be a qualitative or quantitativeapproach, or even both. As for source of funding, in our field of research, the initial sums arerather small and most of the research can even be completed with a smaller amount ascompared to the pure sciences.At the same time academia seems to forget other kinds of knowledge that don’t fit in the snugdefinition of academia, such as hands on experience, quality improvement through minorchanges, the informal grapevine and hearsay, beliefs, superstitions and others of the like. Allprovide knowledge. If we want it to fit academia, then a scientific method must be applied. Thescientific method refers to the various techniques used to investigate phenomenon in order toacquire new knowledge, or to correct or to integrate this new knowledge in previousknowledge. The method used must be empirical and measurable and follows the principles ofreasoning. The initial basis of the scientific method was the hypothetico-deductive model thatencourages one to use their own experiences, form a conjecture, and deduce a prediction fromthe explanation and test. This is now formalized into a pragmatic schema: Define a question,Gather information and resources (observe), Form an explanatory hypothesis, Perform anexperiment and collect data, testing the hypothesis, Analyze the data, Interpret the data anddraw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis, Publish results, Retest.Sadly, we as academicians are very keen to publish results, never to retest and republish.Perhaps the blame should not be on academicians but also on editors of journals such as myself.Journals don’t like to publish replications, especially if the replication supports the originaltreatise. But this is how knowledge is created, the continuous testing of what is known. As Platoputs it, new knowledge must be burnt in the fire of its predecessor, and it will turn to charcoal,that will fan the flames for the successive new knowledge. So perhaps if a journal will notpublish your replication, bring it first to a conference and get it beefed up with the comments ofyour colleagues and friends in the business world before taking it to the world.The dissemination of knowledgeI sit in our University’s Research and Development committee. Every time we meet, there arecountless of applications for funds, some even demanding for money as their research isessential. Every time we in the committee have to ask, what is the outcome of the grants givenand who knows what you did? The nomenclature for a university is the requirement of apublication, preferably in an indexed journal, and later to be cited, as we believe that this equals 3
  • 4. dissemination of knowledge. If not in an indexed journal, preferably in an indexed conference. Ifnot, at least in a refereed journal and a refereed conference. If not, then where was yourknowledge disseminated and furthermore, how was it utilized?I however disagree with this nomenclature, or at the very least would like other methods ofdissemination to be considered. This is why I like India and Indian universities. There is a higherlevel of interaction between academicians and practitioners, but from what I perceive stilllagging behind the openness of countries such as New Zealand. Nevertheless with thisinteraction, there are some forms of dissemination aside from the basic nomenclature.The Europeans have their own written paper on what is and how to disseminate information(Anonymous b, n.d). Their definition reads as:The term dissemination is legally defined as “the disclosure of knowledge by any appropriatemeans other than publication resulting from the formalities for protecting knowledge”.Dissemination can, therefore, be seen as the means by which research results are presentedand made known and accessible to a broad public and/or to specific research communities.Publications in the course of a protection right application, for example the obligatorypublication of an invention after filing a patent application or the publication of a CommunityDesign in the Community Design Bulletin after its registration, are not sufficient and do notconstitute dissemination.If I spoke to a businessman in the street, that I found a high correlation and statisticallysignificant Hierarchical Regression, indicating a strong and positive relationship betweenvariable X1 and variable X2, moderated by variable X3, would he or she not stare at me. Wouldhe or she not wonder why I am wasting my time with such language? Would he or she evenbother to entertain me then and in the future?What I am trying to arrive at is the manner in which this knowledge that we have should arriveat the public that we aspire to use that knowledge. My PhD supervisor carried out variousstudies on marketing orientation and performance and published from there. Not satisfied, hecreated a CD that has some simple questions and when answered, the computer will describethe condition of the business, in simple layman terms. He then sold this to companies andgovernment bodies, as a management tool to measure their marketing & service orientationand performance. The knowledge gained from his studies was disseminated to the businesses.Businesses knew what my supervisor knew from his studies, and businesses applied his newfound knowledge.As an academician, I must publish. Even though Malaysia has yet to come to the stage such as inAmerica, we are hurtling there at light speed. Soon, we must publish, or we will perish. Newwords have crept into our vocabulary, such as citation index, h-index, Socsci, KPI and others.Partly for this reason, I worked with Prof Kim Shyan Fam, to create Marketing in Asia Group(MAG) at in order to help academics to publish in the new journalsthat we created, to attend conferences that we created, to get to know one another throughthe website and hence expand networks and to be trained in academic matters. Our website hasbecome the place where we highlight our findings, such as our studies on journal rankings. 4
  • 5. This is dissemination for me, not only journal publication, conference proceeding, or bookpublications. It is how the knowledge that you have created reaches the target group that youwant to use your knowledge. I am aware of the various proprietary issues, but even this can beworked out. Yes, by all means publish in a journal but place the abstract in your University’swebsite and your own personal website. Think of how the knowledge that you created can beapplied in the industry that you research. I did a few papers on the telecommunication industry,focusing on the customer service (de Run & Thang, 2007), and send copies to all thetelecommunications service managers in Malaysia. I received a few phone calls and discussedwith them my research and hope for further collaboration. I have also done studies on cues inadvertising, a paper presented here is a replication of past studies but in the Indian context, andhave been invited to advertising companies to talk to them on their work, sharing andconfirming my own work with the actual practitioners.It is your own initiatives utilizing various methods and ways to disseminate your knowledge,through the course of self-organized conferences, workshops, training sessions, seminars andself-published websites, publications, press releases, multimedia CD-ROMs, TV and others. Ifyou and your university do not inform the public of what you have done, then the knowledgegained is wasted. It is not enough just to talk about your knowledge, but more importantly tomake it accessible and usable.A good example of making knowledge accessible and usable is what has and is being done inBario, in the interior highlands of Sarawak, by the Faculty of Information Technology, UniversitiMalaysia Sarawak through its e-Bario project (see The project brings amultitude of scientist, particularly in information technology and also the social sciences to Barioand helps to develop an IT based system to help develop the community there. All theknowledge that is known by the academics is passed to the people there, to be used for theirbetterment.The implementation of knowledgeIt must be acknowledged that the explosion in academic knowledge has formed the basis of theknowledge society. In a knowledge society, there has been a shift in valuing applied knowledgeover academic knowledge. Academic knowledge is associated with narrow disciplines such asmathematics and philosophy, whereas applied knowledge knows how to do things, and henceby definition tends to be multi-disciplinary. Perhaps this is why the e-Bario project tends to workwell, as it is a culmination of various disciplines, from IT to Tourism. However, blue sky researchis essential as it is the basis for all knowledge. Only from these fundamental researches can aperson, company or organization gain applied knowledge.Having patents and rights indicate that new knowledge is there. Implementing this is not easy.In business, the closest analogy would be commercialization and at the very least is it can beseen as another company, institution or organization is implementing your knowledge to a reallife commercialization of a product from the knowledge you created. For Universities, the issueis to maximize revenues from licensing faculty-created innovations but this licensing andpatenting process is time consuming and potentially a detriment (lag time can create losses).There are many ways to implement knowledge. Licensing and patenting is only one way. I haveheard of University spin offs, lecturer creates new knowledge and the university business arm 5
  • 6. commercializes it by themselves or through the creation of a new company or a joint venturecompany, and they have far better success rates than private companies. We all know that lag intime usually ends in financial failure as others enter and saturate the market faster. Theknowledge that we have may no longer be viable.Faculty must be provided with incentives (time off, flexible time, or others) to participate withcommercial entities and the commercialization of their knowledge. Lecturers are encouraged togo back to industry, even to be a salesman during semester break if that is required. Facultymust be immersed in their environment. If you are a marketing lecturer and have never been ina business entity marketing arm, how then can you provide new knowledge to the company?Federal and State government should encourage universities to emphasize the number ofuniversity innovations and the speed with which they are moved into the marketplace, notlicensing revenue. In Malaysia, the emphasis now has moved from the number of graduates thatyou have to the number of graduates that actually graduate. Other changes include theemphasis of actual commercialization of products and services instead of only the number ofpatents, license, or rights that is held by a university.In order for this to happen, there must be a body within the university to look into these issues.At my university, we have the Center for Technology Transfer and Consultancy that looks intothe marriage between academia and practitioners. Clear cut policies on finance is detailed andinformed to all. Any new knowledge that leads to a financial reward is strongly supported.I am acutely aware that as an academician in business, there is no new product or service that Ican create. Nevertheless, as what my PhD supervisor did, the creation of a CD, is still thecommercialization of his knowledge. Consultancy is another way of disseminating yourknowledge to be implemented by a company or a government body. And why must everythingbe for money? If you have learnt a new and better way to do something, and it will be beneficialfor a community, then share it.ConclusionsAs I draw to a close, I ask back again, why we gather? Why a conference? I would like to stronglyurge you to reconsider why you are here, aside from the normal reasons. We are academiciansin the field of business in a country where in 2009, there were 378 universities, over 20,000colleges and about 10 million students pursuing higher education (Anonymous, 2009). At thesame time, we are in a country with patents (as a proxy for new knowledge) andcommercialization (as a proxy for implementation of new knowledge) that is easilyoutnumbered by many other nations. I strongly urge you to look at the nature, development,dissemination and implementation of knowledge in the Business Schools in India so that it maygrow further.Thank you. 6
  • 7. ReferenceAnonymous (2009). Shai Reshef Presents Keynote Address At Confederation Of Indian Industry : Fourth University Industry Council Symposium. Retrieved on 190711 from a (n.d). Pluggd in. Retrieved on 190711 from industry/patents-india-vs-china-local-vs-mncs-%E2%80%93-and-spineless-indian-it- companies-1783/Anonymous b (n.d.). Requirements and ways of disseminating knowledge. Retrieved on 190711 from, M. (2000) The Rise of the Network Society Oxford: BlackwellDe Run, Ernest Cyril & Chin Yin Thang, Florence (2007). Customer Service Personnel’s Perceptions of Customers: The Case of a Telecommunications Firm. International Journal of Business and Society. 8.1.48 - 67 7