Introducing Intellectual Capital

What is Intellectual Capital? Intellectual capital was first published by John Kenneth Galbraith in 1969. His belief was that intellectual capital meant more than just “intellect as pure intellect” but more like an “intellectual action”. In a sense intellectual capital is not a static asset or object of value but an ideological process – a means to an end.

Who owns intellectual capital? Ownership of intellectual capital is a controversial issue. Firstly, intellectual capital it is immaterial, not visible like machines, facilities and financial capital. Secondly, defining a specific intangible resource is difficult and depends on the person or institution defining it. Thirdly, it is not totally owned by the company, if you take as an example the employees capabilities and compenteces. This also makes buying intangible resources, like company culture, impossible (the usual exeptions are patents and copyrights) while physical resources can easily be purchased and sold.

Who is an intellectual capitalist? Intellectual capitalist is a manager who gets things done and promotes intellectual activity in the organisation or the team. This is done to support human centered development, organizational ways of working and relationships with customers. The human, structural and customer centric focus is a winning formula in any company that values its success in terms of intellectual capital. Therefore we can call a manager who owns and invests his or her intellectual capital an intellectual capitalist.
How to make more intellectual capital?
Intellectual capital is really like virtual money. You can make more of it by learning, interacting, contracting with partners who create value -and you can spend it to invest in your company or project.

In fact by spending this kind of a resource on a good cause and results you actually gain more and do not loose your own baseline assets in the bargain. Basically you shape the “diamonds” of intellectual capital by accomplishing tasks that generate desired value. It is a win win for all contributors. You can also loose intellectual capital by making poor choises, bad products and destroying good relationships.

Intellectual capital is a brand value that is fragile and hard to grasp – both as a concept and as a resource to be quantified. But when you have adopted a way of nailing it down and measuring it’s growth you can use that to leverage and grow your company. Then we can say that – congratulations, you are on your way of becoming a top intellectual capitalist.