Measuring Knowledgebased Capital
– A Strategy for Developing Data Sources
Companies invest with the aim of getting a future return greater than the expenses for their investment. Knowledge-based capital (KBC) signifies investments in:
- software and databases (and the skills to manage these productively)
- new products and processes
- efficient organization of business, externally and internally.
The Swedish business sector is characterized by increased investments in these forms of capital. As a consequence it becomes more important to observe and understand KBC investment in order to enable adequate growth policy initiatives.
Presently shortcomings in the data sets recording KBC investments, in Sweden and internationally, hamper comparisons of levels of investment over time between countries. Analyses of the contribution from KBC-investments to economic growth will also suffer from these shortcomings in the measurements.
This report concludes that at present the KBC-data with sufficient quality are limited to investments in software and R& D. The main reason is that the current international practice still use different data sources and derive measures by the means of ratios which low empirical basis. The international harmonization of the data is proceeding slowly.
Sweden can, with limited efforts, produce better data than what is presently available. This report suggests that the focus should be on generating data on KBC using business surveys. Improvement in three current surveys and a new survey on corporate organization and training can produce sufficient statistics. With Statistics Sweden’s (SCB) current methods of harmonized sampling, distributions of corporate KBC investments can be realized.
The report proposes that the SCB in cooperation with Growth Analysis are commissioned and given resources to:
- develop a working plan for how the studies should be designed in detail on the basis of the report's intentions by
- developing current IT surveys so that they include investments in brand-building activities such as advertising and market research
- supplementing current Innovation Survey (CIS) with a question that measures "other development work that is not R & D-related”
- planning for a new investigation based on the Meadow survey to cover investments in company organization themselves as well as investment in staff training
- develop a working plan for the estimation of investment shares (capitalization), life expectancy and depreciation patterns for different KBC components applicable for the Swedish business sector.