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The Wealth of Knowledge: Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-first Century Organization Hardcover – December 26, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A century ago, business corporations were identified by their physical assets: real estate, buildings and machinery. Over the course of the next hundred years, management and investor attention shifted toward businesses' intangible property: brand names, patents, business relationships and employee culture. Stewart, Fortune columnist and author of the bestselling Intellectual Capital, argues this trend will continue through the 21st century, even as business law, practice and attitudes often ignore the intangibles in favor of concrete but less relevant physical assets. While not groundbreaking, his latest book offers a broad survey of business from the intellectual capitalist's perspective, from the basic economics of knowledge and business organization theory and management to selling and accounting for knowledge. Stewart could have fit this subject into a serious business magazine article; in expanding it, he simply adds a relentlessly upbeat mix of grand metaphors and detailed examples. Each chapter is packed with provocative, insightful material. The book's weakness is its dearth of theory and impatience with alternative views, and the chapters manage to logically follow one another without ever cohering enough to become more than the sum of their parts. The author's considerable rhetorical gifts also hide the fact that entire sections of the book do not really relate to the main thesis. Agent, Kris Dahl. (On-sale: Dec. 26)

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Stewart, who writes a monthly column for Fortune called "The Leading Edge" and once sat on the magazine's board of editors, follows up his Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations with an interesting yet complex work that stresses the need to consider intellectual vs. bricks and mortar or other forms of capital in accounting for the worth of corporations. Stewart lists three ideas that have changed how business organizations operate total quality management, reengineering, and intellectual capital and maintains that the companies that will succeed in the 21st century are those that master the knowledge agenda. His arguments are cogent and well reasoned. An extensive bibliography is included. Recommended for all types of libraries, this book should be read and reread by people in business generally. Littleton M. Maxwell, Business Information Ctr., Univ. of Richmond, VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday Business; 1 edition (December 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385500718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385500715
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,180,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robert David STEELE Vivas HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Too many people will miss the core message of this book, which is about paying attention to truth and seeking out truth in the context of networks of trust, rather than about managing the process of internal knowledge.
When the author says "It's time to gather the grain and torch the chaff," his book over-all tells me he is talking about brain-power and a culture of thinking (the grain) and counterproductive information technology and irrelevant financial audits (the chaff).
This is one of those rare books that is not easily summarized and really needs to be read in its entirely. A few items that jumped out at me:
1) Training is a priority and has both return on investment and retention of employee benefits that have been under-estimated.
2) All major organizations (he focused on business, I would certainly add government bureaucracies) have "legal underpinnings, of governance, disciplines, ..accounting (that) are based on a model of the corporation that has become irrelevant."
3) Although one reviewer objected to his comments on taxation, the author has a deeper point--the government is failing to steer the knowledge economy because it is still taxing as if we had an industrial economy--this has very severe negative effects.
4) As I read the author's discussion of four trends he credits to John Hagel of I2, it was clear that "intelligence" needs to be applied not only to single organizations, but to entire industries. In my view, this author is quite brilliant and needs to be carefully cultivated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, all of the industry associations, and by governments. There are some extremely powerful "macro" opportunities here that his ideas could make very profitable for a group acting in the aggregate.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By William Rogers Sr. on January 23, 2002
Format: Hardcover
You know, with all the talk over the past several years about the fact that we live in a knowledge economy, its never been clear to me how one uses that information to reshape the way one does business, and gain a competitive edge. How does one apply the notion of "intellectual capital" --which I competely agree with -- to running a company?
As it turns out, that is exactly what Tom Stewart does in The Wealth of Knowledge. At last, I say. In essence, its a book that looks at some of the "best practices" of companies that are doing exactly that, informed by Stewart's unique ability to connect the dots, and make sense of what is surprisingly fuzzy in the existing literature. I've followed Stewart's column, The Leading Edge, on and off again for years in Fortune, as he first began to chart these waters. I'm hardly surprised that he's the one to help tell us how to put the petal to the metal, and show how to use the knowledge that most businesses are really built upon. Hats off to you, sir.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Locke on January 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Tom Stewart is the world's foremost authority on intellectual capital, which is no small recommendation in itself. But here's an equally important consideration for anyone thinking about buying this book: he won't bore you to death! If you've read much in this general area, you know that such a fatal end often awaits the unwary reader. In sharp contrast, this guy knows how to tell a story, and The Wealth of Knowledge is packed with them -- hugely engaging anecdotes drawn both from his own broad journalistic experience and from spirited conversations with an amazing array of business leaders. None of which is to imply that the theoretical foundations are glossed over. Stewart clearly has a wealth of knowledge himself in these matters. He imparts what he's learned in a way that not only enlightens, but also makes you want to keep reading. Solid, grounded and profoundly useful insights. Highly entertaining. Highly recommended.

- Chris Locke, author of Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices, and co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By G. Bolcer on January 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Joseph Heller is a great writer. His most famous work involves young
Yossarian exploring the wily chambers of an insane McNamarian bureaucracy
that is the inner workings of the WWII military campaign in Europe. Milo
Minderbinder counterparts Yossarian's character by exploring capitalism
gone wild. Heller deliciously wraps the whole thing up such that every
chapter, every page, every paragraph and in some cases every sentence
begins and ends with a catch-22.
Tom Peters is a sharp tack. Back when the US had more serious
business problems to attend to including 10% inflation, 20% prime
interest rates, 10% unemployment, and Japanese Kereitsu's
managing circles around America's best and brightest Drukerarians,
Peters and his McKinsey side-office cohort Bob Waterman fired the first
shot in the new economy by exploring the bureaucracy and social
organization of what makes excellent companies.
Thomas Stewart is the best of both authors. His new book has flagged an
inflection point in the evolution of high tech management. He
bookends every chapter, every page, every paragraph with fresh managerial
insight and survey that would make Peters proud and a anecdotal familiarism
which stems from knowing every major C-level executive at all the thought
leading companies doing "cool work." "The Wealth of Knowledge" weaves
the do's and don'ts of corporate lore into a terrific read that only Heller
can rival in fiction exploring the catch-22 of tangible accounting and measuring, creating
and managing a corporation's intangible assets--namely Intellectual Capital.
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