We are undergoing a radical transformation. For the first time, knowledge, the most important factor of production, is in the workers’ hands. Knowledge allows us to add more value to our exports when we apply it innovatively to the development of new business models in entertainment, tourism, gastronomy, export quality medical services or in developing new technologies, among many other possibilites.
Therefore, the acqusition and distribution of formal knowledge has the same level of importance that the acquisition and distribution of property and income has had in the past centuries. This represents a unique opportunity for countries such as our own – if we learn to think long term -, given that it allows us to realize that we can develop our own sources of wealth, beyond those which come from natural resources. We could grow by leaps instead of evolving gradually.
Japan, a country with no natural resources, is one of the richest countries in the world due to its ability to think long term, to its organizational skills and to its ability to apply its knowledge to innovate. The possiblity of prospering does not have to be remote for us, but to achieve prosperity, we must begin by investing. Companies should invest in learning to manage their knowledge and to acquire new knowledge to be able to innovate and generate future income. And something similar should be done at a country level. Malaysia’s case is interesting.
Like Peru, Malaysia is a very diverse country politically, ethnically and geographically. It is a country that has doubled its GDP every decade and that has reduced poverty from 48% in the seventies, to 7% today in urban areas. One of the factors which has been key to its success has been their ability to think long term. Towards 1990, they created a vision and a plan of what they wanted to become in year 2020 – or Wawasan 2020 as they call it – which has been accepted by all and they have created various plans to keep monitoring and adapting annualy to attain it.
One of its most ambitious plans is its Knowledge Management Plan. With it, they seek to transform their economy from a prodcution-based economy, to a knowledge economy. One in which knowledge becomes the most important factor of production, generating more wealth than work, capital and land.
We should also start to think about such issues if we want to take advantage of the opportunity to grow by leaps, given that in business guru Peter Drucker’s words: “Poor countries will not exist. Only ignorant countries will.”