Knowledge Democracy as Key to Twenty-First Century

  • Francesco GrilloEmail author
  • Raffaella Y. Nanetti


This chapter brings to bear the research findings of this work onto the thesis that the “democracy paradox” of the missing link between growth and democracy is at the very roots of the “innovation paradox”, whereby the impact of the Internet revolution is still to unfold most of its potential to improve the well-being of citizens. It discusses the lessons learned on the ground about the concepts of knowledge democracy and smart participation as resolutive to reverse the trend of decline in Western democracies. The thesis is largely proven. The chapter underscores the relevance of the empirical cases of China and Italy for the scrutiny of the triangle of performance relationships: technological progress (TP), democratic participation (DP) and socio-economic growth, singling out China as the high scorer. It moves to profiling Australia, Estonia, Canada and Switzerland as laboratories of the democracy of the future because these liberal democracies perform better on the challenge of realizing richer forms of participation and innovation-driven growth. It then confirms from the findings that liberal democracy survives if it proceeds on the path to knowledge democracy, capturing the potential of technologies and reconnecting citizens with representative institutions. The chapter offers ten specific suggestions to contribute to a still too weak debate on the future of democracy and on the development of participatory mechanisms which would make institutions capable to adapt to and govern the mutation that technologies have triggered. Pointing out the limits of this empirical investigation and the need for expanded research, the chapter retraces Marco Polo’s voyage to the East and the reciprocal learning it brought through a silk road that needs to be rediscovered, and in closing it reaffirms the spirit of the West and makes an impassioned call for action to renew democracy in the era of the Internet.


Knowledge democracy Innovation paradox Democratic participation Liberal democracy Silk road 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sant’Anna School of Advanced StudiesPisaItaly
  2. 2.University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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