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Lessons learned in intellectual capital management in Germany between 2000 and 2020 – History, applications, outlook

Manfred Bornemann (IAC Intangible Assets Consulting GmbH, Graz, Austria)
Kay Alwert (Alwert GmbH and Co. KG, Berlin, Germany)
Markus Will (Corporate Management, Fraunhofer IPK, Berlin, Germany)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 24 February 2021

Issue publication date: 27 April 2021

310

Abstract

Purpose

This article reports on the background, the conceptual ideas and the lessons learned from over more than 20 years of IC Statements and Management with a country focus on Germany and some international developments. It calls for an integrated management approach for IC and offers case study evidence on how to accomplish this quest.

Design/methodology/approach

Report on the German initiative “Intellectual Capital Statement made in Germany” (ICS m.i.G.). A brief review of the literature describes the background and theoretical foundation of the German IC method. A short description of the method is followed by four detailed case studies to illustrate long-term impact of IC management in very different organizations. A discussion of Lessons Learned from more than 200 implementations and an outlook on current and future developments finalizes the article.

Findings

IC Statements made in Germany (ICS m.i.G.) was successful in providing a framework to systematically identify IC, evaluate the status quo of IC relative to the strategic requirements, visualize interdependencies of IC, business processes and business results as well as to connect IC reporting with internal management routines and external communication. However, ICS is not an insulated method but delivers the maximum benefit when integrated with strategy development, strategy implementation, business process optimization accompanied by change management routines. Strong ties to human resource management, information technology departments, quality management, research and development teams as well as business operations as the core of an organization help to yield the most for ICS m.i.G. Over time, the focus of managing IC changes and maturity leads to deutero learning.

Practical implications

ICS m.i.G. proved easy to apply, cost efficient for SMEs, larger corporations and networks. It helps to better accomplish their objectives and to adjust their business models. The guidelines in German and English as well as a software application released were downloaded more than 100,000 times. A certification process based on a three-tier training module is available and was successfully completed by more than 400 practitioners. ICS m.i.G. is supporting current standards of knowledge management, such as ISO 9001, ISO 30401 or DIN SPEC PAS 91443 and therefore will most likely have a continuing impact on knowledge-based value creation.

Originality/value

This paper reports lessons learned from the country-wide IC initiative in Germany over the last 20 years initiated and supported by the authors. Several elements of the method have been published over time, but so far no comprehensive view on Lessons Learned had been published.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

For the scientific development and the practical pilot tests of the ICS method described in this article the authors counted on the partnership and valuable advice from the research group “Arbeitskreis Wissensbilanz”, consisting of (in alphabetical order): Daniel Andriessen, Leif Edvinsson, Peter Heisig, Mart Kivikas, Karl-Heinz Leitner, Kai Mertins, Jan Mouritsen, Klaus North, Sven Skalski (former Wuscher) and Günther Szogs.Funding: The first stages of the project “Wissensbilanz Made in Germany” (2004-2013), in which the method as well as the German guidelines, ICS Toolbox, the study “Wissensstandort Deutschland” and further materials were developed and tested, received funding from the German Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi).

Citation

Bornemann, M., Alwert, K. and Will, M. (2021), "Lessons learned in intellectual capital management in Germany between 2000 and 2020 – History, applications, outlook", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 560-586. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIC-03-2020-0085

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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