The purpose of this paper, drawing mainly on insights from Foucault and Wittgenstein, is to conceptualise intellectual capital (IC) in very generalist terms as both language game and power in order to initiate a critical understanding of IC.
IC is viewed as knowledge about knowledge, knowledge creation and how such processes might be leveraged into value. It is argued that a critical understanding of IC requires a historical, contextual and linguistic understanding of how IC has emerged and how IC is used. Perceiving IC as language game and power is one way of initiating such critical understanding.
IC is perceived as a social construction and the genealogical focus is on how actors, positions and interests influence this process of social construction.
The paper offers concepts and methods that facilitate historical and contextual research on how IC emerges and how IC is used. Further historical studies are necessary in order to reflect upon and improve extant IC concepts and methods
The paper offers a critical understanding of IC by introducing concepts from the organisational discourse literature. Further it offers practical methodological guidelines for conducting critical genealogical research.
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