Intellectual capital

Intellectual capital is the sum of all intangible assets that a company, through innovation and development, has managed to transform into knowledge and added value, whether present or future.

Intellectual capital

Intellectual capital, in other words, refers to all intangible assets (those that are not seen). Intangibles that, through development and investment in innovation and progress, have ended up becoming useful knowledge for companies. In this way, the intangible asset, to be considered intellectual capital, must provide a certain value to the company.

Given the professionalization of sectors in the economy, intellectual capital is a relatively new concept. Well, we are talking that this concept, along with others, began to be used in companies in 1997. It was in this year when authors such as Brooking or Steward began to use the concept in studies. Studies that, later, were applied in companies, in the social field, as well as in the academic world.

What is considered intellectual capital?

Although there is not a high degree of consensus on what is considered intellectual capital and what is not. Many authors have made common approaches to the concept. In summary, intellectual capital is grouped into three large blocks. Together, these blocks represent what we call intellectual capital.

These three blocks to which we refer are the following:

  • Relational capital: Relational capital refers to the set of links, as well as agreements, and, in short, the totality of relationships that the company has with its environment. That is, all the relationships that the company has, whether with suppliers, competitors, shareholders, customers, partners, etc. Although many try to measure the company’s relationships with selected indicators, it is still considered great difficulties to measure the entire contribution of each relationship to the company itself.
  • Human capital: Human capital is the set of skills possessed by workers who perform their duties in a company. Talent, knowledge, skills, capacity for innovation, values. Everything related to the skills that workers have in the company, thereby adding value to it.
  • Organizational capital: Organizational capital refers to the set of organizational systems that, through experience, the company has developed and professionalized throughout its history. Organizational capital, like human capital, refers to a series of knowledge that, thanks to experience, has been acquired over time, achieving substantial improvements in performance, thus providing added value to the company.

Difference between intellectual property and intellectual asset

Although it seems that both concepts are linked, intellectual property and intellectual asset are completely different concepts. That is, although both are integrated into the block of intellectual capital, we are talking about two types of intellectual capital, but they present important key differences.

In the first place, the intellectual asset is any intangible asset that has been created within a company. These assets are of great importance and value for the company, since, in many cases, its success depends on them. However, this intellectual capital, unlike intellectual property, cannot be registered through intellectual property laws, that is, it cannot be protected. The difficulty in quantifying its value causes intellectual capital to be excluded from the regulation regarding the registration of intellectual property.

On the other hand, intellectual property, as its name indicates, does include all those intangible assets that, in accordance with intellectual property laws, are found within them. We are talking about intangibles of which we can generate evaluative approximations such as trademarks, patents, processes, as well as everything that has a quantified value and there may be the risk of misappropriation or theft.