Intangibles: A synthesis of current research
Intangibles are becoming increasingly important to the scientific community as well as the business world. This is mainly due to a highly competitive business environment combined with exceptionally limited resources and the growing importance of knowledge as a commodity. The fluctuating differences between market and book values of companies indicate the extent of the intangibles' rising importance. By focusing on major publications since 1997, this paper critically analyzes current trends and differing views in this field. The publications are analyzed according to their content and methodologies. Review of the literature clearly shows that most publications in this area still lack a theoretical foundation. A large number of differing terms and definitions are present. Much of the literature analyzed here also fails to provide detailed suggestions for the management of intangibles, be they theory-based or empirically-derived. Discussion of these issues generally remains on a very abstract level. Research on intangibles is characterized by a large variety of views and interpretations - dominant schools of thought have yet to develop. This situation offers much opportunity for further research in this important field of management.