Synthesising The

These studies have identified, with various degrees of sophistication, the existence of cultural differences as a primary determinant of failure.

Alternative explanations focus upon a transaction cost approach, emphasising opportunism and the danger of cheating in such strategic alliances.

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This article examines how to synthesise and critique research literature.

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We need this perspective to approach the proposal by George Church of Harvard University, US, and colleagues for a ‘Human Genome Project–Write’ (HGP–Write); the original Human Genome Project being HGP–Read.

Church aims to build a complete human genome from scratch, using the clever synthetic chemistry now routinely used to make much shorter stretches of DNA with specified sequences.

That question has haunted us at least since French physician Julien Offray de La Mettrie argued, in 1747, that humankind is a mere machine: a particularly sophisticated automaton like those with which ingenious inventors were, at the time, astonishing well-heeled audiences in Parisian salons.

That view was scarcely less shocking more than a hundred years later, when Thomas Henry Huxley asserted in 1874 that animals (of which Darwin had made humans one such) were indeed automata, and that notions of free will, consciousness and the soul were nothing more than illusions conjured from particular brain states in response to outside forces.

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