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Cross-benchmarking international competitiveness and performance in human language technologies

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Purpose ‐ Competitive success as a nation requires balancing commercial innovativeness and social welfare, which results in a sound basis for socio-economic development. All potential resources ‐ including entrepreneurial activity and innovations ‐ can be utilized as promoters of competitiveness and welfare. Thus, useful lessons for general national competitiveness can be learned from benchmarking individual innovations and perhaps even more so, from those less glamorized technologies such as human language technologies (HLT). Finnish researchers are considered to be at the leading edge of developments in a number of ICT fields. The main responsibility for the utilization of knowledge is seen, necessarily, to rest with the public sector, while the legislative framework is considered to favour entrepreneurship and innovation. Aims to discuss the issues. Design/methodology/approach ‐ National competitiveness and HLT benchmarking pose a number of interesting questions and issues both macro and micro levels. For example: the extent to which benchmark performance in HLT is consistent with national competitiveness; link between robustness of research effort in any particular language community and effectiveness of technology transfer to market; and fostering and funding of entrepreneurial activity in HLT in the successful (benchmarked) countries and the fit with national vision and innovation policy. For the first two areas, relationships between HLT benchmark and comparative national competitiveness of top countries are examined through comparison of their respective primitive dimensions. Data sources include official and quasi-official public documents. The final stage is explored using a case study approach and comparative assessment against extant entrepreneurship literature. Findings ‐ There appears to be no direct link between robustness of the HLT research effort in any particular language community and actual effectiveness of technology transfer to market. None the less, success in the Finnish HLT benchmark appears to correlate with the country's international competitiveness standing and "social innovation policy" paradigm. Its knowledge society model has clearly resulted in a sound basis for its socio-economic development, where all potential resources ‐ including its entrepreneurial base ‐ and innovations, can be utilized as promoters of competitiveness and welfare. Within this entrepreneurial base, HLT SMEs tend to seek scale economies through internationalise at the early stages of development. Originality/value ‐ The paper shows that Finland is well placed to meet the challenges and to capitalise on the economic and social opportunities, given its strength in ICT/HLT innovation policy country's open self-criticism of the latter.

Keywords: Benchmarking; Communication technologies; Competitive strategy; Entrepreneurship; Finland; Language

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/14635770710819272

Publication date: September 4, 2007

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