Management & Valuation of Intangible Assets in Swedish Holding Companies : An integrative model on how Swedish holding companies assess, evaluate and manage their intangible assets to maintain old and create new knowledge within their subsidiaries
Abstract: Background: Companies operate in a dynamic and challenging business environment with a constant battle to become and stay competitive and achieve sustainable growth. The business environment has transformed rapidly in the past decade due to major globalization and internationalization processes, which have created a demand for mapping and understanding business value and core competences. Parting from the traditional, the focus within companies and research is shifting from tangible assets to human capital, such as knowledge, as the primary competitive resource. Knowledge is a concept that is both complex and volatile. Knowledge emerges and develops through processes of each individual and also from individuals merging together into groups – making it hard to manage. Sadly, without proper management of such resources and processes, it is competitive advantage cannot be exerted. Nowadays, most companies can be identified as knowledge intensive firms, where competitive advantage is related to the ability to create and apply new knowledge through mergers and acquisitions. For about 3 decades, researchers, governments and companies have been trying to develop methods to evaluate and measure intangible assets, but there is a lack of research on how it is done in reality. Purpose: The purpose of the study is to investigate Swedish holding companies’ approach to working with intangible assets, primarily knowledge; investigating the way it is leveraged and used in the holding structure to create knowledge as a competitive resource across the entire corporation. Method: A qualitative research is used with a sample of 10 Swedish holding companies varying in size, structure and sector in order to test a proposed integrative model formulated on theory. Purposive sampling is used for participant selection based on personal networks. Conclusion: Firstly, we found that the majority of the Swedish holding companies do not have a method for evaluating intangible assets in general. In the event of mergers and acquisitions, on the other hand, human capital is emphasized as a main factor for decision making. From the managerial point of view, there is an elevating need for developing a systematic approach to assess human capital when acquiring new subsidiaries, primarily in order to understand the value and context of knowledge. Secondly, Swedish holding companies have internal structures and work-approaches to identify key persons within the newly acquired subsidiaries and transfer their knowledge to the mother company. Furthermore, they try to maintain and create knowledge by investing on education and leadership, but in general, knowledge management is done subconsciously. Therefore, the general finding of this research is that the concept of knowledge management is in the beginning of its lifetime and there is a clear need to put more managerial emphasis on restructuring processes.
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