Sami Mahroum and Paul de Guchteneire
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It is increasingly recognised that diasporas, and diaspora knowledge networks in particular, may contribute to the benefits of the migration process: in receiving countries by providing valuable international linkages that bring new ideas and skills, in migrant source countries by strengthening ties with their emigrants abroad, and last but not least, to the migrants themselves, by giving them a platform for exchange of experiences and valuable contacts for their professional and private lives.
Traditionally, the relationship between geography, science, technology and innovation(used here broadly to describe all activities relating to scientific and techno-economic change) has been dominated by the concept of “national innovation systems” (NIS) developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s (Freeman 1988; Lundvall 1992; Nelson 1993). The NIS concept was then extended by Michael Porter (1995) to apply on a regional scale (cluster theory). The NIS approach does not give enough consideration to the role that transnational forces play in shaping and transforming local innovation environments, particularly through the factor of human mobility. In a world that is increasingly witnessing the emergence of transnational communities with extended international networks, a growing body of research on international knowledge networks (IKN)or diaspora knowledge networks (DKN) is providing more insight into the structures and processes of the agents of change that are increasingly shaping many regions around the world. IKN is defined as “a system of coordinated research, study, results dissemination and publication, intellectual exchange, and financing across national boundaries” (Parmar 2002: 13). The actors in such networks may incorporate professional bodies, academic research groups and scientific communities that organise around a special subject matter or issue. The primary motivation of such networks is to create and advance knowledge as well as to share, spread and, in some cases, use that knowledge to inform policy and apply to practice (Stone 2003).
In this special issue of the IJMS, five articles focus on the topic of international knowledge networks established via diasporas.
Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:
Mahroum, Sami and de Guchteneire, Paul. Editorial. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2006, vol.8, no.1, pp. 1-3. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol8/issue1/ed