Intangible Capital: Putting Knowledge to Work In the 21st Century Organization

By Mary Adams and Michael Oleksak; Reviewed by Michael D. Moberly

***** Intangible Capital: Putting Knowledge to Work In the 21st Century Organization. By Mary Adams and Michael Oleksak; published by Greenwood/Praeger,; 171 pages; $34.95.

Some readers may consider a concept like “intangible capital” more aligned with business operations and finance than security and risk management. In many respects, they would be right. That said, this text has considerable relevance to both the security and risk management professions. Those specialties will be influenced and driven by a new business paradigm in which, according to authors Mary Adams and Michael Oleksak, the raw materials for success are hu­man, relationship, structural, and strategic capital. Organizations, they write, are rapidly becoming knowledge-based, innovation driven, and increasingly dependent on the flow and utilization of intangible assets for value and revenue.

The conventional perspective is that trade secrets and other forms of intellectual property are the only kinds of intangible assets. The authors urge that readers reject that notion. They provide clear insights into what intangible assets are, what they aren’t, how they have become embedded in business practices and transactions, and how they are viewed by the C-suite.

This work gives readers a real appreciation of how they might develop an enterprisewide approach to protecting intangible assets. Readers will also gain a keen understanding of the new “knowledge factories” where “knowledge has become the oil, and intangible assets are the raw materials.”

While the authors appropriately describe the need to develop, harness, and manage intangible assets, it is up to the individual reader to translate the subject matter into the security context toward the goal of protecting them. The authors provide ample terminology, graphs, and figures that can help in framing and articulating the new mission. The text is relevant to a broad cross-section of businesses and other organizations, public and private, for-profit and nonprofit.

As dependency on intangible assets grows, it’s virtually certain that organizations will devote fewer resources to protecting physical assets. To be effective in this new environment, security and risk management practitioners would be well served to read this text. They must be prepared to adopt more proactive roles that measurably contribute to sustaining control, use, and ownership of intangible assets.

Reviewer: Michael D. Moberly is founder and president of Knowledge Protection Strategies. He is vice chair of the ASIS International Information Asset Protection Council.



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