Our community continues to grow. For me, one of our collective strengths is our diversity. We have representatives from all over the world and from many different disciplines. This means that we each bring something different to the study of intangible capital.

But this diversity can make it challenging to find ways work together. In order to help us find channels for collective action, I would love to hear your feedback:

  • What do you like/dislike about IC thinking?
  • What do others think about it?
  • What can we do as a group to help you with IC?

Please share your thoughts, Mary

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Comment by Mary Adams on March 20, 2015 at 3:48pm

Thanks to everyone for sharing your thoughts!

Comment by Jodie M. Cohen-Tanugi on March 13, 2015 at 8:44am

I agree with the previous comments.

I think an IC approach is valuable because it enables stakeholders to see an additional and critical dimension of the ecosystem of the organization and thereby makes change, improvement, and optimization possible.  Mary gives a great example when she shows the difference between an official organizational chart and the actual lines of communication.

The problems with IC and promoting active management of IC are:

- the difficulty of stating clearly and concisely what it is without making it seem oversimplistic and thus of limited value.

- the fact that it means so many different things to different people, as other ICountants have stated.

- the fact that it is not known, understood, or taken seriously by most people unless they are active proponents.

As a group perhaps we can focus on finding fora to explain and advocate IC and IC management-- articles, conferences. Those of us with consulting or accounting practices can bring IC into the conversation with our clients.  We should continue to exchange and interact and support each other through the Smarter Companies platform and monthly meetings.

Comment by Nick Shepherd on March 8, 2015 at 5:14pm

Hi Mary - glad to respond.

What do you like/dislike about IC thinking? To me it reflects the reality of an emerging post industrial age where human engagement and creativity is becoming the key to success. What I particularly like and am excited about is the revolution that IC thinking must eventually have on our approach to leading and managing organizations. Having trained as an accountant I have particular interest in the activities to try and change traditional thinking around organizational performance that is focused on financial capital. Finally people are our most important asset - and we should not call them assets as we certainly don't own them! What I have trouble with is the challenge of getting people to define what they really mean by intangible capital; part of this is in itself the evolution from tradition - patents, trademarks, software etc. to a much broader definition. The traditional (often accounting) definition is way too restrictive.

What do others think about it? Not sure - people are certainly becoming more aware but the challenge is that it is intellectual (yes, of course it makes sense) but are having trouble really defining what it is all about. In my particular sphere of accountants most are not sure what to do about it.

What can we do as a group to help you with IC? - I think we can communicate and hopefully continue to develop a global network of leadership in this area. In particular in defining the scope of IC which could tie in with the work of IIRC on the 6 capitals, and then we can try and be a source of information of how to identify, evaluate, monitor, sustain and grow capability in this area. We need people to come to us to answer the question - "how does this affect my organization and what do I need to do to nurture and develop my capabilities in this area?"

Hope that helps.


Comment by Vedran Antoljak on March 6, 2015 at 5:58am

What do you like/dislike about IC thinking?

I like IC thinking because it is future oriented thinking. IC thinking helps us to assess potentials in the future and not to make our decisions / judgments just by analyzing the past of company's life. I dislike the low level of recognition i.e. acceptance of the IC thinking by the relevant stakeholders, as without the broad acceptance and integration of the IC in institutions and policies, there is limited outcome that we could expect out of IC.

What do other think about it?

My experience is showing that all private sector and academia are recognizing IC as the very important for future growth, economic development and job creation. Micro and SMEs, corporations and groups, universities and colleges, investors and consultants etc. - all around the world are praising IC as the valuable approach to assess future potentials. On the other side, institutions that define accounting standards (e.g. IAS), government institutions, and international organizations could do much more in promoting the IC thinking and setting the platform for its further development.

What can we do as a group to help you with IC?

We should promote IC thinking through conferences, our websites, active participation in IC community, etc. We should also find the way of exchanging good and successful examples where IC thinking has helped someone to sell it business or somebody else to by good business. We need much more evidence that we can spread further at all levels and in all cases (public and private sector).

Comment by William Miller on March 5, 2015 at 11:23am


The biggest problem with IC is a chaotic situation with multiple definitions that creates confusion hampering commercial applications and consulting services. In addition, the current definitions ignore (1) IC produced by public investments such as education and federal government services including patents, trademarks and copyrights , (2) IC used in foreign trade including IP, and (3) IC used in innovation management such as described in Integrated Reporting.

Various organizations give conflicting definitions.

Here's a sample -

Conference Board, FASB, BEA, Federal Reserve, Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), Smarter-Companies, consortium defining Integrated Reporting  ... my papers and books describing IC in innovation management

Example -

Report title - Innovation Accounting

Authors - Carol Corrado and Charles Hulten

Organization - The Conference Board

October 2012

EPWP #12 – 04

In that report, here's a summary of the IC definition.

Knowledge-based capital of the firm (intangibles) by asset type

Computerized information

  1. software
  2. databases

Innovative property

  1. Mineral exploration
  2. R&D (scientific)
  3. Entertainment and artistic originals
  4. New product/systems in financial services
  5. Design and other new product/systems

Economic competencies

                Brand equity


                                Marketing & market research

Firm-specific resources


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