The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management publishes original articles on topics relevant to studying, implementing, measuring and managing knowledge management and intellectual capital.

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Journal Issue
Volume 7 Issue 4, ECIC 2009 / Jul 2009  pp397‑534

Editor: Christiaan Stam, Daan Andriessen

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In Search of Alternative Metaphors for Knowledge; Inspiration from Symbolism  pp397‑404

Daniel Andriessen, Marien Van Den Boom

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Pictures of Knowledge Management, Developing a Method for Analysing Knowledge Metaphors in Visuals  pp405‑414

Daniel Andriessen, Eja Kliphuis, Jane McKenzie, Christine van Winkelen

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The Frontier of Linearity in the Intellectual Capital Metaphor  pp415‑424

Constantin Bratianu

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IC—based Inter‑industry Variety in Serbia  pp425‑436

Sladjana Cabrilo

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The Meaning of Intangible Assets: New Insights into External Company Succession in SMEs  pp437‑446

Susanne Durst, Stefan Gueldenberg

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The Commission of the European Communities (2006) estimates in its report that one third of all EU entrepreneurs will leave within the next ten years. In conjunction with the situation that (1) the majority of Europeans prefer being an employee and (2) the fact that changes in demography will reduce the pool of potential successors over the next decades, this paper argues that external (non‑family) successors take on an important role and are in a position to choose the company, which best matches their expectations. A successful company succession depends on a multitude of different aspects. In the case of external succession, certainly the available funds represent a critical point. However, the assumption is that the decision to acquire a company is based on other factors. It is hypothesised that the potential external successor will be interested in those companies offering potential expansions. In view of the increasing relevance of intangible assets within the firm regarding company success, it is suggested that these assets primarily influence the external successor to go further in the succession process. Thus, it is expected that the future perspectives of the company are founded on its inherent intangibles and which in turn justify a financial investment. The aim of this paper is to explore the role of intangible assets as seen from the viewpoints of external successors. The strategy of research behind this paper is the application of a mixed methods approach which is divided into a survey approach and a case study approach (given priority). Within the quantitative stage a web‑survey was used to obtain data on the relevance of intangible assets in terms of external company succession in SMEs whilst addressing members of German trade corporations and chambers of commerce. The results of the quantitative study were enhanced through qualitative interviews with ten external successors in SMEs. The data that were gathered explores the role of intangible assets during the successors' deliberations as to whether or not the company should be acquired. Intangible assets are found to be important features for external successors. Specifically five intangibles can be highlighted which are brand, partner(s), key‑employees, knowledge retention, and corporate culture. The critical intangibles were summarised in a conceptual framework. The findings suggest that in the case of external succession, intangible assets have a remarkable influence on the external successor's decision‑making and traditional issues in the view of company succession such as tax, legal and, financial aspects should be extended to include intangible aspects. 


Keywords: SMEs, intangible assets, company succession, strategic management


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Identifying a Suitable Approach for Measuring and Managing Public Service Productivity  pp447‑458

Aki Jääskeläinen

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How to Conduct the Audit of Intellectual Capital in Polish Tourism Business?  pp459‑468

El bieta Maria Kot

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Measuring the Impacts of an IC Development Service: the Case of the Pietari Business Campus  pp469‑480

Paula Kujansivu, Antti Lönnqvist

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Business Model Evolution in IA IC Support Centres and the Role of Market‑Making  pp481‑488

Iain Russell

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Intellectual Capital of the European Union 2008: Measuring the Lisbon Strategy for Growth and Jobs  pp489‑500

Christiaan Stam, Daan Andriessen

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The Impact of Welfare State Development on Social Trust Formation: an Empirical Investigation  pp501‑508

Larysa Tamilina

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Using Scenarios to Explore the Potential for Shifts in the Relative Priority of Human, Structural and Relational Capital in Generating Value  pp509‑516

Christine van Winkelen, Jane McKenzie

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Applying Intellectual Capital Process Model for Creating a Defensive Protection System to Local Traditional Knowledge: the Case of Mea‑hiya Community  pp517‑534

Pitipong Yodmongkon, Nopasit Chakpitak

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