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Intellectual Capital

Linking: Intellectual Capital: Realizing Your Company's True Value by Finding Its Hidden Brainpower  (中譯本:智慧資本:如何衡量資訊時代無形資產的價值)
Authors: Leif Edvinsson and Michael S. Malone
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Collins; 1st ed edition (March 26, 1997)
ISBN-10: 0887308414
Book Review:


When thinking about intellectual capital, the following questions come to mind:

- What are the hidden value drivers of nations or regions? Does the old economics help to explain this?

- Do we really see or have a taxonomy to describe the value drivers of companies on the stock exchange?

- How do we explain the growing gap between market capitalization value and book value?

- Is there another pattern of value creation and new business logic emerging, other than the often-quoted value chain logic?

- Is IC about value creation versus cost savings? Is it about outside the firm versus inside the firm? Is it about communities or corporations?

- Is IC only about knowledge and competence management? Or is it about future earnings capabilities and potentials?

Some market observations

It might look as if there is a new economy. But could it just be a new sphere for value creation? The so-called intangible sphere or intellectual capital sphere.

Looking at some of the investment patterns in the USA, based on research from Professor Baruch Lev (1997) at Stern University, New York, shows a very different investment perspective since 1929. Then approximately 70 per cent of the USA investments went into tangible goods and some 30 per cent into intangibles. However, by 1990 this pattern was inverted, and today the dominant investments, both in the USA and Sweden, go into intangibles, such as R&D, education and competencies, IT software and the Internet. On average, more than 10 per cent of GDP in OECD countries is estimated to go into intangibles or IC. For countries like Sweden this input is estimated to be more than 20 per cent of GDP. It is becoming more and more essential to visualize the IC of nations.

This is also reflected in stock prices. According to Professor Baruch Lev (1997) , the average relationship between market value and book value in the late 1970s was one time, in the mid-1990s it had increased to an average of three times, and now it is more than six times the book value. For some companies, like America Online (AOL) and Microsoft, around 90 per cent of their market capitalization value is in intangibles. Such intangibles or IC might be visualized systematically as has been done by Skandia, as well as Turn IT, a stock market listed company in Stockholm.

Furthermore, a big proportion of the global stock market value is in PC companies, estimated to have a joint market capitalization of some US$6,000 billion. This value might then be contrasted by the global market capitalization of Internet companies, estimated to be only US$1,000 billion, i.e. around 15 per cent of that for PC companies. What will the future earnings potential of those companies be versus PC companies?

These aspects are leading, among other things, to the fact that a growing proportion of policy and political initiatives, both at the company and society level, often are distorted due to lack of a relevant map of statistics, accounting figures related to intangibles, value impact and effectiveness. Therefore, several global initiatives, such as that of the Brookings Institute in Washington, are addressing these issues.

Some organizational observations

Industrial value chain processes no longer dominate value creation. Value creation is in the shaping of information, knowledge and innovations - sometimes grouped under the label of intellectual properties (IP). Value creation or value extraction of such intangibles is also often done through another business logic in the shape of value constellations with temporary role participants, leading experts or unique artists. The flow is increasingly going digital in the form of e-commerce. This new type of value transaction has been projected to grow some 15 times over the next three years. The metaphor for this transition is sometimes described as a shift from bricks and mortars to clicks and portals.

In this emerging business world, small business operations interacting in knowledge clusters and global networks employ and engage people, while large corporations deploy them, The average proportion of self-employed people, often referred to as knowledge nomads, in the Group of Seven countries is estimated to be 11 per cent by Hamish Mcrae, London. In the UK this figure is already 15 per cent. Just imagine the potential trend in Asia for free, self-organizing knowledge nomads. Furthermore, Asia is expected to have about 100 per cent more Internet users than the USA within five years. The new economical sphere will be shaped by the soon-to-be 700 million new users in myriads of organizational combinations solving old problems, shaping new opportunities.

This trend will change the way value-creating interactions are done. New organizational rules will emerge, such as much looser organizational structures based on the Internet. The Internet is described by Eric S. Raymond less as a global cathedral and more as a self-organizing bazaar. Sometimes described as chaordic ones by Dee W. Hock (1999), they are characterized by a combination of order and chaos. It is also a tremendous power shift, challenging traditional management of both corporations and societies to a transformation policy - to see the options to reshape the existing to something new and better. Old intangibles and intellectual properties such as brands might get new values through mergers with new companies with global soft technology assets. One illustration of this is the merger between Time Warner and AOL.

The value creation is going to be in shaping new ideas, exchanging information globally, and interacting through networks with high organizational speed in order to take action. Therefore, it might be more relevant to visualize the new economical sphere from a biological perspective, as a nervous system with energy flows and cells being split, mutated and evolving. It describes life, renewal and movements. Consequently, it will highlight the institutional failures versus the emerging global networks. According to the report by Stall from the corporate executive board in Washington, 45 per cent of failure is related to strategic neglect, 38 per cent is related to organizational ineffectiveness and only 17 per cent is related to exogenous factors. In other words, a lack of organizational renewal or bad organizational float.

Owing to demographical development there is also an emerging talent war. One of the leadership consequences is the need to focus competence and talent inflow by development of organizational or societal attractiveness, instead of competitiveness as a key driver for value constellations and value networks. This will result in more and more management attention on culture, values, ethos and story telling around intangibles (versus traditional historical cost accounting). Sometimes this is also described as an emerging Dream Society, according to Professor Rolf Jensen (1999), Copenhagen, Denmark, in a recent book with the same title.

Global growth curve of IC

The following pattern of market capitalization growth and IC global growth phases might be discernible. They are based on the above global context evolution and the personal experiences of being the world's first director of intellectual capital, starting in 1991 at Skandia AFS. There the IC value has grown from a very minimal value in the early 1990s into some US$15 billion at the beginning of the year 2000.

This might be a guiding vision based on the IC logic of sustainable earnings, to be seen as a tree with roots to be cultivated for the future financial fruits, and as the IC value scheme with its various IC components, as well as the extended organizational capital development prototyped in the Skandia Future Center (see Figure 1).

Each phase often results in a stock market appreciation shift, based on increased transparency, as well as new expectations from the future value creation of the intangibles investment.

Phase one is very much about the visualization of intangibles from a reporting perspective. This is supplementary accounting, now being called for by some organizations, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the USA. A special methodology for this has been developed as an IC rating by Intellectual Capital Sweden AB (www.intellectualcapital.se).

Phase two is very much focused on human capital injection, often labelled competence adding or knowledge management. It is both the search for talents to be added, e.g. by mergers between companies, and the effectiveness from knowledge sharing and installation of IT based knowledge systems, or emerging knowledge exchanges such as www.knexa.com

The third phase is the systematic transformation of human capital into structural capital as a multiplier, with much more sustainable earnings potential for the organization. It is a refined approach based on the second phase, but very much focused on the packaging of knowledge into recipes to be shared globally and rapidly. It is a shift of leadership focus from human capital on to structural capital as a multiplier for the human talents. The IC multiplier is to offer organizational springboards to human talents. This is very much the case of Skandia AFS, also described in their 1998 IC report, called Human Capital in Transformation (www.skandia.com).

The fourth phase is structural capital injection externally. It is a turbo effect on the IC multiplier by combining different types of structural capital constellations for co-creation of new opportunities. It is expanding the space of co-creation as the unique space of imagination, and organizational stretch where human capital and structural capital meet. As discussed by Kevin Kelly in his book on the Digital Economy (Kelly, 1999), here the marginal cost is zero while the upside is on the revenue potentials. One illustration of this is the recent merger between AOL and Time Warner, combining different organizational capital components with complementary customer capital potentials. Another illustration might be the proposed Deutsche Bank and Mannesman alliance for new mobile and Internet banking. It is a shift of perspective from a local and physical focus to a global and intangible focus that will shape innovative prime movers. There also is the new, more intangible intellectual entrepreneurship, such as in the TIME (telecom, informatics, media and entertainment) sector.

These discernible phases of global IC growth are gradually increasing the value creation potential of organizations. The intangible or hidden values of the organizational competencies will be developed around fast learning, organizational networking and relationship building, as well as ethos and aesthetics for the brain, leading to more of a symbolic management and meaning of leadership.

The challenge for the IC leadership, both on a corporate level and society level, is therefore both to shape the context for these growth phases, each of them being a huge challenge, and also to communicate these intangible value phases to the stakeholders in a repetitive, auditable and trustworthy way. Just as the old accounting system might be viewed as the first generation of knowledge management tools, now it is time for another generation focused on intellectual capital.

The model further recognizes that IC may flow between IC sections over time and according to management action taken.

In a corporate world where true value is no longer determined by physical assets alone, but instead by a combination of material and nonmaterial resources, businessman Leif Edvinsson and journalist Michael Malone propose a new way to bridge the gap between balance sheet and organizational reality. In Intellectual Capital: Realizing Your Company's True Value by Finding Its Hidden Brainpower, they explain why today's companies must take intangibles seriously--and how to measure them so they can.


~Cited from Leif Edvinsson. Journal of Intellectual Capital. Bradford: 2000. Vol. 1, Iss. 1; p. 12


關鍵字: 資本 智慧

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