To gain competitive advantage in Europe, it is vital for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to utilise knowledge efficiently and to tap into full innovation potential. Reporting those intangible assets systematically to customers, partners, investors or creditors has become a critical success factor. Thus, managing "intellectual capital" (IC) becomes increasingly important for future‑oriented organisations. Conventional balance sheets and controlling instruments are not sufficient any more, because intangible assets are not considered. The collective research project "Intellectual Capital Statement â€” Made in Europe" considers national experiences and the current state‑of‑the‑art on measuring IC and will establish a European ICS guideline for implementing Intellectual Capital Statements (ICS). The ICS is an instrument to assess, develop and report an organisation's IC, to monitor critical success factors systematically, and to support strategic management decisions (cf. Mertins, Will 2007).For customers, investors and especially creditors, after receiving an ICS, one of the first things that usually comes into their mind is: Is this information "reliable"? To ensure a high quality level of ICS and to be accepted by, for instance, the financial market, it is important to have a neutral third party who certifies the reliability of the document. Learning from the experiences of ISO 9001 certification, assessment for the European Excellence Award and of financial audits, an ICS audit methodology has been developed. The ICS audit verifies the conformity with the European guideline respective ICS implementation process and the completeness of the ICS content. Furthermore, it will check whether the content is plausible, verifiable and representative for the company. To ensure sustainability, the auditor will get a picture of whether the ICS content is communicated and the stated actions for improvements are in progress or already realised. The main focus of this paper is to demonstrate how to ensure the quality and reliability of IC reporting and how to promote the sustainable realisation of actions by ICS audits.
Keywords: Intellectual capital, intellectual capital statement, quality management, audit methodology, knowledge management, SME European commissionresearch
InCaS: Intellectual Capital Management in European SME â€” Its Strategic Relevance and the Importance of its Certification pp111-122
As the Lisbon Agenda declares the aim for the European Union to become the most dynamic and competitive knowledge‑based market in the world by 2010, management instruments are needed to support companies achieving this ambitious goal. Small and medium‑sized companies (SMEs) are especially affected by this plan being the driving force of Europe's economy. To obtain their competitive advantage, it is crucial for SMEs to utilise knowledge efficiently and to enhance their innovation potential. Thus, managing their specific Intellectual Capital (IC) becomes more and more important for future‑oriented organisations. A practical way to tackle the challenge is the methodology developed by the German pilot project 'Wissensbilanz â€” Made in Germany' and the European pilot project 'InCaS: Intellectual Capital Statement â€” Made in Europe'. The Intellectual Capital Statement (ICS) is an instrument to assess, develop and report the IC of an organisation and to monitor critical success factors systematically. By applying this method in more than 50 German and 25 European small and medium‑ sized enterprises, it was possible to support the participating companies in identifying, evaluating and developing their strategically relevant knowledge. Resulting from increased interests in managing and reporting of IC, stakeholders such as creditors or investors receive ICS in completely different qualities â€” from very reliable to implausible. To ensure the quality of ICS in a sustainable way, we have developed an approach of ICS certification based on the methods of quality management system certification, financial audit and the assessment for European Excellence Award. In the end, only the ICS fulfilling the quality requirements will be awarded a certificate. A catalogue with requirements shall serve as the certification basis and has to be in place beforehand. This catalogue evolved as an essence of both above mentioned projects and includes the experiences of ICS implementations. The challenge is to determine the smallest possible amount of requirements that will enable the ICS to meet the acknowledged quality criteria. Furthermore, this paper summarises how the InCaS method supports companies developing a knowledge‑based strategy. We describe research results gained from the German and European project about the strategic relevance of particular IC factors in general and their relevance depending on the business sector.
Keywords: intellectual capital statement audit, knowledge management, innovation, SME, quality requirements, certification