Date of Award

1-1-2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business

Faculty

Faculty of Business and Public Management

First Advisor

Professor Alan Brown

Abstract

This study addresses the question 'To what extent does organisational type and managerial role define managers' perception of Intellectual Capital?' Our understanding of the phenomenon of Intellectual Capital is an emerging one. The most recent attempts to describe and define Intellectual Capital identify a dynamic 'action' perspective as well as a static 'perception' perspective. Intellectual Capital broadly describes the resources of knowledge available to an organisation, whether embodied in human or non-human forms, and which are capable of being transformed into and codified as productive organisational assets. The emergence, development and application of concepts of Intellectual Capital herald the arrival of the Knowledge Era. The perception of Intellectual Capital as a major organisational resource and the active management of Knowledge Resources of which it is comprised may be strategically important to the continuous generation of organisational growth and comparative advantage. Organisational type as well as managerial function may be crucial to the recognition and management of Intellectual Capital. Two hypotheses were tested using a cross-sectional design. Specifically, the research was directed at five types of senior managers (general manager, finance, human resources, information technology and marketing) in three broad types of Australian organisations: business, government and non-profit organisations. A large sample of executives drawn from a range of organisations were surveyed on their reactions to a range of concepts that, the literature suggests, are associated with the management of Knowledge Resources. To address the 'perceptual' perspective on Intellectual Capital, it was first speculated that the type of organisation in which a manager is employed (business, government, government business enterprise or non-profit) and/or a managerial role (general manager, finance, human resource, information technology or marketing manager) and/or the interaction between organisational type and managerial role will significantly explain their perception of the financial value of the Knowledge Resources that could comprise the elements of Intellectual Capital. It was established that the effect of managerial role, but not organisational type, on managers' perception of the financial value of Intellectual Capital was significant. To address the 'action' perspective on Intellectual Capital, it was hypothesised that the type of organisation in which a manager is employed (business, government, government business enterprise or non-profit) and /or managerial role (general manager, finance, human resource, information technology or marketing) and/or the interaction between organisational type and managerial role will significantly explain their active management of the Knowledge Resources identified with the emerging concept of Intellectual Capital. It was found that organisational type, but not managerial role, significantly explains managers' tendency to actively manage Knowledge Resources. Since the commencement of research of this study, in 1996, discussion about Intellectual Capital and the closely associated issue of Knowledge Management has continued unabated. The most recent literature consulted (2000) suggests that these issues continue to mount in their importance and confirm the ascendancy of knowledge as a basic productive resource. However, in the absence of an established, cohesive body of theory and documented experience, widespread 'real world' experimentation will be required if these issues are to be satisfactorily addressed. If organisations are to more effectively identify, measure and manage their Intellectual Capital, the responsibilities for initiating and executing these tasks will fall upon the managers of organisations. This study has tentatively demonstrated that the perceptions that different types of Australian managers hold of Intellectual Capital lack uniformity and that different types of Australian organisations have yet to develop suitable policies and strategies that would facilitate its management. Unless these factors are addressed, the benefits Australian organisations could obtain from the Knowledge Era may be prejudiced or retarded.

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