Analysing and enhancing IC in business networks: Results from a recent study
Since the acknowledgement of intellectual capital (IC) as the major driver of a company's competitive and innovative performance numerous scientific models and practical approaches were developed to capture and display the IC elements of businesses in order to make them visible and accessible for management. But since the economy has gone global and businesses are acting within a global business landscape the view on IC needs to be expanded to these new structures. Especially for small and medium sized enterprises (SME) commitment in networks and clusters is crucial for sustainable competitiveness on international markets. Alike single companies, also business networks highly depend on IC in order to perform successfully and effectively. The way businesses cooperate, exchange and acq uire knowledge, find suitable partners, solve problems, develop and profit from the network has an impact on the company itself as well as on the network. Aiming at an IC-based assessment and support of SME networks, the methodology presented in this paper follows a bottom-up approach starting with the assessment of IC in the single company. Within the research projects InCaS: Intellectual Capital Statements Made in Europe and Wissensbilanz Made in Germany a methodology has been developed which has proved to be capable of collecting comparable qualitative IC data. Based on these results, a consolidated approach has been designed recently, collecting IC data from more than 600 companies in Germany. The results are comparable and individual at the same time, allowing to display IC se ttings of single companies as well as to aggregate IC information within an IC portfolio for a whole group of companies. The paper will present the methodology as well as some first results from the study taking a look at the German IC landscape based on more than 600 individual IC assessments. The paper will also discuss the possibilities of using the results for IC enhancement in networks and clusters from the view of the single company.