Knowledge transfer as a ‘spontaneous’ process

Since its inception as a programme of two-way exchanges, T-DEB has brought together British and Turkish companies of different sizes, sectors and capabilities and seen a variety of partnerships emerge, each distinct in fundamentally unique ways. 

Planning and operationalising knowledge transfer for partnerships in innovation can go in surprising ways, yielding unexpected solutions for problems not initially anticipated. 

But that should be no surprise in itself - the history of innovation, after all, is a history of random discoveries, chance circumstances and spontaneous synergies. Known unknowns and unknown unknowns are part and parcel of scientific inquiry

At Tekiu, we have also put them at the heart of our approach to facilitating knowledge transfers. Good news is, it does work wonders.

As part of our Global Innovation Partnership T-DEB programme inception, we identified a number of challenge areas impacting underserved communities in Turkey and set out to facilitate UK-Turkey partnerships to address those challenges. 

We have also envisaged how partnerships might develop but stayed away from prescribing any stringent frameworks. Keeping in mind that there will be unknowns of various stripes as we explore the innovation landscape, we have left enough room (plenty of room!) for what might emerge by chance in the course of the programme. Strikingly, chance discoveries have been a typical feature of innovation. Same can be true for knowledge transfer.

Rather than deciding for Turkish companies what to pursue to meet their partnership goals, we have provided them with the basic tools to navigate their way in the UK landscape.

Why that approach? You might think that a process as complex as knowledge transfer should need tunnel-vision directing, stringent boundaries and ‘central involvement’. Counter-intuitive though it may sound, that would actually be the recipe for counter-productivity, inhibiting chance discoveries -- or to be more precise, spontaneous order so central to innovation

In fact, that is the insight of ‘spontaneous order’ that won Friedrich Hayek the Nobel Prize for identifying a crucial catalyst spanning across social and natural sciences. Hayek spent his lifetime emphasising the effectiveness of decentralised knowledge held by various actors as opposed to central planning

It is a phenomenon that works on micro-scales, too. 

What we have observed as Turkish and UK companies have interacted on their own terms and not by our centrally-planned frameworks is a true testimony to that insight, as will be illustrated in our upcoming case-example blogs.

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Published at
November 13, 2019