Chapter 2: Intangible Capital: A Comprehensive and Unifying View
INTRODUCTION In any scientiﬁc study, it is important to deﬁne carefully the important terms. With respect to intangible capital (IC), this is doubly important because of the confusion that has been generated by many diﬀerent deﬁnitions and usages of key terms in the diﬀerent social science literatures. As has been widely noted, for social capital (SC) (just one, albeit important, component of IC), there are many diﬀerent deﬁnitions and disciplinary perspectives. Baron and Hannan (1994: 1122–4) lament that there has emerged ‘a plethora of capitals,’ and sociologists ‘have begun referring to virtually every feature of social life as a form of capital.’ It is quite apparent that not all the IC concepts are equally valid; moreover, there are many confusing and overlapping categories. Obviously, there is a need for clariﬁcation and integration. What exactly are the legitimate types of IC? What types are not? And how does it all ﬁt together? The purpose of Chapter 2 is to develop a comprehensive and unifying conception of IC. Because one of the sources of confusion in the IC and SC literatures is the variety of disciplinary perspectives, this chapter will attempt to lessen that confusion by focusing solely on a deﬁnition of IC that would be useful in a study of IC as an explanation of economic growth. This narrowing of focus makes the topic more relevant for economists, but hopefully still of interest to many noneconomists. TOWARD A BROAD CONCEPTION...
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