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Title: Transitioning to a competitive Knowledge-Based Economy (KBE) : the case of Qatar
Author: Al-Maadeed, Sara Abdullah Ibrahim
ISNI:       0000 0004 9353 7420
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2019
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The desire of many countries to shift from a commodity-based economy to one that is driven by ideas, new technologies, and innovation has resulted in the concept of a Knowledge-Based Economy (KBE) occupying the centre of contemporary discourse on national economic development. In this regard, many countries have set ambitious targets to diversify their economies so as to enable them to transition from a natural resource-dependent economy to a KBE. However, the dynamics of a KBE as a co-evolutionary innovation system have led to disparate and often competing ideas on how countries could make this transition. In particular, there is a lack of clear interpretation of the collective learning dynamics among national institutions, which is necessary for driving the transitioning process. The case of Qatar is instructive, as the country has attempted in recent years to implement the outcomes of a national foresight exercise aimed broadly at helping the country transition from a commodity-based economy to a KBE. A focus on developing the capacity of the Qatari national workforce was at the heart of the process. This thesis explores Qatar’s vision to transition its economy from a natural resource-dependent economy to a KBE. It specifically examines the extent to which the country has been successful in developing a shared vision of collaboration for a transition to KBE across the various institutional spheres tasked with spearheading this national transition. Furthermore, it examines the organisational practices of these institutions to elucidate the extent to which they constitutively help to facilitate (or impede) the country’s quest to transition to a KBE. Adopting an exploratory qualitative research approach, the main data for the empirical inquiry comes from 53 semi-structured interviews with executives in the four institutional spheres of (1) government, (2) education, (3) industry, and (4) civil society and professional bodies. The interview data was supplemented with publicly available archival documents, such as Qatar’s national vision blueprint, the Qatar National Development Strategy (QNDS) 2011-2016, and other relevant national economic policy documents. The findings from the study suggest that the transition of Qatar’s economy to a KBE has been very slow in pace and remains far from achieving its objectives in the near future. The interactions between the four institutional spheres do not reflect collective learning. Rather, the government has dominated the formulation of the national strategy, controls the QNDS, and has subjugated the other institutions to the role of basic implementers of government policy. The current state of play of the transition of Qatar’s economy to a KBE is characterised by (1) an emerging workforce development strategy that is developed in silos at institutional levels and is devoid of a shared vision; (2) a weak understanding among the various institutions on the relevance of collaboration and collective learning for transition to a KBE; (3) the absence of a coherent networking strategy pursued by government to encourage inter- and intra-organisational learning; and (4) frequent changes in institutional structures and priorities. The study also identifies the broad range of organisational practices of the various institutional spheres that cumulatively facilitate (or impede) the transition of Qatar’s economy to a KBE as enshrined in the QNDS. The practices include (1) intra-organisational social capital development, (2) cross-agency collaboration, (3) strategy formulation, (4) intra-organisational learning, (5) management of KPIs, and (6) government funding practices. The thesis contributes to knowledge in three main areas. Firstly, it develops a comprehensive framework that highlights the relationships among the identified salient organisational practices and their collective implication for a national transition from a commodity-based to a KBE. Secondly, by emphasising the relevance of organisational practices for a transition to a KBE, the thesis contributes to the new turn to practices in theorising social life and the making of national innovation systems. Thirdly, the study identifies the dimensions of a shared vision (which is necessary for supporting collaboration across the four institutional spheres for a transition to KBE) and proposes an analytical scheme to ‘unpack’ intra-organisational learning to support KBE.
Supervisor: Sarpong, D. ; Botchie, D. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Intra-organizational learning ; Collaboration ; National strategic foresight ; Institutional spheres ; National development