1989 - Managing Knowledge Assets and Intellectual Capital

Thomas Stewart is an author and column writer for Fortune magazine. His 1991 article, Brain Power, which appeared in an intellectual capital series, is often quoted as the beginning of Knowledge Management in business. In this series, he defined intellectual capital as the intellectual material that has been formalized, captured and leveraged to produce a higher-valued asset. It is the sum of everything everybody in your company knows that gives you a competitive edge in the market place.

However, the concept of knowledge management probably started a little earlier. To provide a technological base for managing knowledge, a consortium of U.S. companies started the Initiative for Managing Knowledge Assets in 1989.

In addition, Tom Stewart tracked the first to use of the term Intellectual Capital to GR Feiwel in The intellectual capital of Michal Kalecki: A study in economic theory and policy, (1975) attributed to John Kenneth Galbraith, who in a letter to economist Michael Kalecki 1969 wrote:

I wonder if you realize how much those of us in the world around have owed to the intellectual capital you have provided over these past decades.

Since then, the terms Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management, and Managing Knowledge Assets, are generally considered as the same branches from the same tree.

Next Steps:

Return to the History of Knowledge

Return to main History page