Edited by Derek Bosworth and Elizabeth Webster
Chapter 4: A Management Perspective
Laurie Hunter 1 INTRODUCTION It is only in the last 20 years or so that the role of intangible assets has begun to be seriously addressed in the business management literature, although some speciﬁc forms of intellectual capital such as patents, trademarks and brands have long been recognized as signiﬁcant contributors to corporate value creation. What has changed is the growing recognition that intellectual capital is a component of a broader range of intangible assets, whose development and management is critical to the competitive capabilities of an increasing proportion of contemporary businesses (Kay 2000). The reason for this new recognition will be examined in more detail later in this chapter, but for the moment it is enough to note that many of the familiar and traditional sources of differentiation among competitors have been neutralized by the emerging globalization of trade and developments in information technology and communication (Quah 2001; Teece 1998). Geographical advantages have been diminished, distinctions between products have been blurred and many new market areas have been created. These trends, in turn, have enhanced the importance of intangible assets as a source of differentiation and competitive advantage because they are much more difﬁcult to imitate and transfer. They have thus moved centre stage as a vital factor in competitive rivalry in many sectors of business. The relative novelty of systematic analysis of intangibles means that, as with any new area of knowledge, there is some lack of commonly agreed deﬁnitions, concepts and taxonomy. Likewise,...
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