An Epistemology of Intellectual Capital and its Transition to a Practical Application

An Epistemology of Intellectual Capital and its Transition to a Practical Application

Jan Carrell (Colorado Technical University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-679-2.ch002
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Organization requirements for survival evolve reflective of the environment in which they exist. It has been theorized the organizational tool for survival of the 21st century is intellectual capital. As with new concepts the transition from theory to practical implementation is not without challenges. Intellectual capital struggles with transitioning into the world of business. This chapter includes a limited study of organizations in the Midwestern United States whose executives espouse a valuation of their organizations’ intellectual capital but have not bridged the gap from the theoretical understanding of intellectual capital to the practical documentation of their organizational intellectual capital in practice. This finding illustrates an estrangement between the academic field of theory and the practical implementation in the organizations.
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Intellectual Capital Foundations

History by definition reflects past events. These past events lay the foundation and indeed mandate the design and structure for the organizations of the future. From organizational history, we are able to track patterns and forecast trends of organizational behavior. This historical reserve communicates tools and resources that have been successful and also identifies those management attempts that were not successful. The wise recognize the value of these lessons learned and benefit from the understanding of the classical management theorists’ dialogue. Oliver Wendell Homes (1809-1894) stated “When I want to understand what is happening today, I try to decide what will happen tomorrow; I look back; a page of history is worth a volume of logic.”

To renew our understanding of organizational behavior a brief overview of the evolution of management theorists, applicable to both organizational theory and human resource utilization, is illustrated in this section. An understanding of why organizations think and behave as they do in the 21st century sets the stage for an appreciation of the environment intellectual capital is seeded. Understanding where we came from enriches our understanding of who we are and aid in predicting where we are going as well as contributing to the success of the trip (Sussland, 2001; Weick, 1999).

However, to understand organizational development without recognizing the time and environmental factors in which these changes occur is like the description of an elephant by the blind men in the old Indian fable (Saxe, 1816-1887). George and Jones (2002) stated that temporal and spatial concerns are essential features of organizational behavior, and that it makes little sense to ignore them, treat them implicitly, or treat them in an inadequate manner. Weick (1999) asserts that interest in the temporal and sequencing concerns of organizational behavior offers the opportunity to predict organizational needs in the 21st century. This said, we can then first understand the milieu that nourishes the concept of intellectual capital, secondly assess its acceptance, and finally predict its survival.

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