Germany towards a knowledge-based economy
Due to changes in the value creation processes the management of Intellectual Capital (IC) is of increasing importance for the industrialised nations. Previous research has indicated that material resources are less important than intangible assets. We confirm that this is true and that it applies in particular to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). SMEs are the backbone of the German economy and therefore the target group for IC management. Unlike large scale enterprises, SMEs are incapable of facing the increasing cost pressure by volume growth or relocation due to their specific characteristics. Against this background, the purpose of this paper is to assess and describe Germany as a knowledge site. The paper shows the stage of development of German enterprises on the way to a knowledge-based economy from a practitioner's perspective. The results of the analysis are used to derive recommendations for the management of Intellectual Capital. For this purpose, the research group "Arbeitskreis Wissensbilanz" has undertaken an empirical study. The data for the survey was collected in the time period of July 2009 and August 2010 under the supervision of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology (IPK) within the initiative "Wissensbilanz-Made in Germany". The initiative is funded by The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology of germany (BMWi). In the course of the empirical study more than 2300 managers and decision makers of German enterprises of various sizes in various branches were questioned. They were asked to which degree different factors of the Intellectual Capital influence their business success and how well these different factors are developed in their enterprise from their point of view. The most important factors of the IC of German enterprises were identified for different sub-groups of the sample, e.g. enterprises of different size, from different sectors etc. The sub-groups were compared and significant differences were analysed.