The Challenges For Capitalism
Article 6: Intellectual Capital
Copyright © 2003 Dorian Scott Cole
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"Future US Business will be based on intellectual capital."
Is knowledge the key to profit?
The challenge in turning knowledge into success
Education in intellectual capital
Knowledge and education should be free
Historically, knowledge has had critical and profound impact on our world.
Losing the ability to compete in technology
The challenges for capitalism
- Jeffrey Skilling, former CEO of Enron, in an interview.
Is knowledge the key to profit?
I'm not sure if former Enron CEO, Jeff Skilling's remark quoted above, "Future US Business will be based on intellectual capital," is a way of reframing his company's notoriously inflated worth, or if there is wisdom in that statement. Prior statements about the ability to transform knowledge into profit (i.e., the knowledge economy) haven't proven their value.
According to the School of Information Management and Systems (SIMS) at the University of California at Berkeley, which examined the flow and storage of information, stored information has grown 30 percent per year between 1999 and 2002. Print, film, magnetic, and optical storage media produced about 5 exabytes of new information in 2002, which is equivalent in size to the information contained in half a million new libraries the size of the Library of Congress print collections, or the equivalent of all the words ever spoken.*1
Is this information a product that can be harvested and sold? All kinds of information, such as manuals, electronic mail full of good information, consumer usage and demographic information, movies... Well maybe.
In one large corporation that I worked for, productivity was measured by the amount of paperwork that you produced. To some, I guess, paperwork was what others noticed. At the end of a year, the paperwork that you received piled all the way to the ceiling (no exaggeration). Add to this, e-mail and voice mail, which were supposed to reduce the daily onslaught of paperwork, but didn't. No one had time to read all of that stuff, let alone remember any of it. Yet this "stuff" is often at the heart of information management systems. Somewhere in those piles, are nuggets of gold... eh, maybe.
One high tech leader decided that it would conquer the information challenge. It decided that it would amass all of the intellect that the company had into a system that could be researched to make finding the exact right information easy. People began writing down everything that they knew. The first year everything went great. The next year, the system began to mushroom out of control. By the third year, the system brought them unusable chaos. Why? The amount of information returned by a search was simply too much for anyone to look through.
At another corporation that I worked in, two mechanical devices that were key to the products that they manufactured, were prone to failure. One was a door latch - it came apart with repeated use. They worked and worked to resolve the problems, with little success. Ironically, the corporation that they worked for had already delivered the proper instructions for designing these devices in an engineering manual. No one bothered to look in the massive manual.
The Internet has more information available at your fingertips than anyone can imagine. But it is a bit difficult to look through 6 million results. When information becomes this extensive, and searches don't specify categories, indexes surge to nightmarish proportions, even though search engines are making some progress in search techniques. (Incidentally, I worked for one company that developed a product that used artificial intelligence to pare Internet search engine results to the ones you were looking for in typically just 4 mouse-clicks. Capital to continue launching unfortunately disappeared with the dot.com failure and economic downturn.)
Surely we could harness and refine information into something that would sell. Or, at least sell technology that brought all of the "nuggets of gold" together. Well, except for one important thing. On many subjects available on the Internet, or in company files, information is sketchy, and doesn't give you the information you actually need. There is another important reason, which follows.
Capitalism finds a way to charge for everything that seems valuable to people. For example, even water gets charged for. On a recent inquiry into building lots, we learned that we would have to drill 1000 feet to get an adequate water supply - $10,000.00 plus pump. Nah. People do have a choice - they can usually get city water, or obtain water for "free" by digging a 1000 foot, $10,000.00 well.
Personally I never consider homes that aren't on city water, having experienced 25 years of wells that ran dry. I "dug" two wells, as an independent minded, self-sufficient young man. The first was a twenty foot drilled well for farm animals, and the other was a thirty foot driven well at my first married home. Every Saturday morning, without fail, the tank overfilled and the system had to be drained and primed. I sure miss those days - those and filling the stoker on a coal furnace or carrying fuel oil in.
Neither time did I use a dowsing rod to find water - just knowledge that I had acquired from my and others' experience. The thirty foot well on the sand provided more clean water than we could use. But drilling can be expensive, requires special knowledge and skills (tacit knowledge) that most people don't want to acquire, you may tap into foul tasting or impure water (we did both simultaneously at one location), and the well and pump will require maintenance. As I was pulled to the top of one 50 foot well after cleaning the bottom, the pulley gave way, nearly plunging me 50 feet to my death. Fun, fun, fun.
In ancient times, people settled and formed communities where the wells and springs were. No well, move on. Most people gladly pay others to find the water and maintain safety, taste, adequate supply, and do maintenance. Providing water is a service worth paying for. But if you want to gain the experience from drilling your own well, the information should be available.
"Tacit knowledge," mentioned above, is simply knowledge acquired through experience. People who have this knowledge make up the group of people included by the label "intellectual capital.82" They are the people that companies don't want to lose, the ones with the knowledge and experience to "dig a well," the people that give corporations a competitive edge. The question is, in today's fast paced world, does tacit knowledge really make that much difference?
Management guru Peter Drucker, in his 1993 book, Post-Capitalist Society, felt that Value would be created by productivity and innovation - both the result of knowledge. Employees would own the means of production and the tools of production, through pension funds, and because knowledge workers own their knowledge and can take it with them wherever they go. Productivity will be a product of knowledge and the knowledge worker.*3
I question Drucker's theory in actual practice. Knowledge and experience can be short-lived commodities. The quick development, rise, and stabilization of the Internet, with the corresponding mass hiring, high salaries, and quick layoffs and subsequent transfer of knowledge to third world countries to reduce costs, is just one example of how incendiary knowledge and experience can be as a way to make a profit and a living.
Drucker's view, which I wish was true, is an idealistic view from the early 1990s. My experience with Knowledge is that it doesn't provide a lasting competitive edge. At minimum, continuous advances are required to stay ahead competitively. Additionally, tacit knowledge is not a force in itself - it requires sound management. Tacit knowledge without guidance is unproductive. Management without tacit knowledge of the field is superfluous.
A manager (usually a product manager) is the person who sees the wider picture, that is, the company direction, the market, the product, the process, profitability, and how to lead people. He is the interface between the directors, the skilled, and the market, and can effectively formulate action and communicate in both directions. His knowledge is born of experience - he is thoroughly aware of what it takes in each of these areas to accomplish an objective. Experience is essential. A manager without these attributes is useless.
The best thing that industry did in the last two decades was to eliminate a couple of tiers of management so that the communications path is shorter. The people often in demand today for management positions are those who have this knowledge.
According to an Accenture study, Achieving High Performance through Human Capital Development: A Look at the Pharmaceutical Industry,*4 "...organizations considered to be better human capital managers also experience higher revenue growth rates. In fact, effective management of some human capital areas account for up to 27 percent of the variation in revenue growth rates across companies in this study."
Does hoarding experience ensure continued growth?
A tale of the microtome in which experience turns into a technology. One way to analyze tissue is to slice it into extremely thin slices and then look at it under a microscope. Slicing is typically done with a microtome, which cuts tissue slices into thicknesses measured in a few wavelengths of light. This process can be described in a book so that others have the knowledge, however, using the microtome at one time was very technique oriented - the amateur who read the book would only end up with erratic sizes and smashed slices that were unusable. The entire process was fraught with special skills that came only from experience.
Diamonds are typically used as the material for knives for the thinner slices. One company made diamond knives for this use. One company that made microtomes decided to buy the diamond knife company. Upon sale, the "talent" left the building. The new owner spent months trying to learn the process and make consistently good quality diamond knives. The buyers nearly lost the business before the new people developed the experience necessary to make knives.
Cutting anything that thin is subject to cutting technique and environmental problems. The speed of the cut and the angle of the knife make big differences. A truck going by outside or the ventilation system motor can cause enough vibration to destroy the cut. Air movement, and even variations in temperature, such as breathing on the cutting arm, can cause erratic thicknesses. Things that most of us never think about are summed up for a few in one word: experience. The experienced are intellectual capital.
Interpreting what is cut is another matter. You can describe or show pictures of disease signatures in tissue, but having the experience to properly and consistently identify a disease signature in tissue requires experience, not simply knowledge. Similarly, physicians often know what a broken bone or disease looks like, but they use specialized radiologists to identify and treat disease shown in X-rays and mammograms. Most physicians have more appropriate places for their time than trying to acquire the skill for reading X-rays and treating disease with X-rays. The person with experience (tacit knowledge) consistently does the work properly, and thus offers a service that has value.
What happens to intellectual capital? One might guess that they leave the business after 6 years and go to another job, which is true. The other thing that happens is that the process is codified and becomes a technology that is done by a machine.
One thing that I want to point out here is that technology is not necessarily a leader of the market. Intellectual capital is the leader - the tacit knowledge of people is formulated into a technology. Without people's experience, the technology would probably not come into being. Sometimes we get that backwards. Tacit information typically comes first, and feeds technological advances.
Back to microtomes, once one high tech automated microtome hit the market, the competitive rush was on, and others soon followed. The second point that I want to make is that technology is a moving target. Technology chases tacit knowledge, and these both are chased by competitors. It is either run like a scared rabbit, or be eaten by a dog. Right now the thinking is that intellectual capital will save us. Gulp!
According to Drucker, improved methods were increasing productivity 3.5 to 4% a year, which means productivity doubles every 18 years. Half of the productivity gain increases everyone's purchasing power - raises everyone's standard of living. 1/3 to ½ of the productivity increase is taken as leisure time. In 1910 workers put in 3000 hours a year. Today, those in Japan put in 2000 hours, 1850 in the US, and 1600 in Germany.* 5
The microtome story is one anecdotal piece of evidence that maintaining a competitive edge in technology through tacit knowledge, or intellectual capital, is a difficult task. While the US can do it, the US is not the only country with expertise in technology areas. Many other countries do excellent research. There are also forces at work in the US that will limit the ability to do basic research, as mentioned in later paragraphs. The story may be anecdotal and apply to technology, but I see the story repeated over and over in technology and other areas as well.
The challenge in turning knowledge into success
Not everything can be replaced by technology. The gains in productivity in many industries, brought by intellectual capital, may have already happened. Computers, discussed in a previous article, are one example. Another example is, even the automobile production line is split into work better done by humans, and work better done by robots.
Additionally, if science and technology were competent to do all things, we could put people in space on every effort and bring them back home safely. But instead, rockets blow up on the launch pad, during acceleration into orbit, and during reentry. Technology requires human experience and processes to analyze and control it, and to oversee technological processes. Technology is typically not capable of perfecting itself.
The knowledge economy was all about data-mining in information management - programs purported to bring floods of information together (such as company memos, knowledge bases, the Internet, and consumer data), filter them, search them, and produce illuminating outputs that could inform management. Most industries found that they didn't help them any. Sometimes the reason was simply that it took training, the right culture, and consistent effort to make it work. Knowledge-mining has not been a total failure, and has worked in some industries, but applying knowledge to knowledge has not proven that beneficial to many industries.
The bellwether of information and technology, the former Bell Labs associated with AT&T, had done much primary research which produced a large number of patents in science which other companies, or AT&T®, licensed. Bell Labs was largely responsible for the reliable high tech communication infrastructure that the US and some other nations have today. A few years ago, Bell Labs was spun off into Lucent Technologies®. Despite various acquisitions, Lucent has been an under-performing stock, often on the brink of going out of business. Lucent has had difficulty leveraging Bell Labs vast scientific research into profitable ventures.
I personally would have invested in Lucent (and would today) if I had had the money - but I would have made very little. Perhaps in the future it will turn around as it finds applications for its science (profitability today looks strong, but revenue, like many communication technology companies, is 1/10th. of the 1999 and 2000 high reached during the peak of the Internet boom, and is 1/2 of their 1996 launch). But this example raises the question of how profitable is being a knowledge society and having intellectual capital?
One clear danger in buying into the concepts of the "knowledge economy" and "intellectual capital" is, their potential may be the product of over-analysis (or perhaps misguided meta-analysis), that can lead in a misleading direction. For example, including such things as accumulation of consumer purchasing statistics, bank records, entertainment information... really misses the mark in telling a true tail to many companies.
Education in intellectual capital
Drucker, in 1993, argued for a "universally educated person," as the archetype for the new Knowledge society.*6
I agree and disagree. There is so much knowledge, and it is increasing so rapidly, that to gain a general education that would apply to all fields would be a major headache. I'm very familiar with the high school or college dropout who gets hired into a high tech field and does well, even becomes an entrepreneur and becomes wealthy. I have also seen that for a tremendous number of jobs, only 8 years of primary schooling are needed. Candidly, most people can do just about any job in business with only a high-school education, if they paid attention and took good courses. Knowledge for most jobs is specific to the job, and is acquired through on-the-job training and experience. It is only in plentiful employee markets that recruiters and HR staff begin throwing out resumes because they lack a degree.
Businesses are mostly interested in what people can do, not their education, although education may make some difference in their salary or initial hiring. Only directors of companies typically need degrees, and only science specialists require advanced degrees. The idea that business requires much education is a sham. Many CEOs today are college drop-outs with an entrepreneurial spirit.
What is helpful in management positions, and positions that interface with the public, is more general education. The ability to communicate, to work with others, to be unbiased, to automatically look at the larger picture, to do specific things like negotiate; these are abilities that are learned through educational settings, religious institutions, work settings, family training, and in other experiences.
The authors of the Accenture leadership research study, Leadership Crucibles, learned from lifetime leaders that what matters is what you make out of the experiences you undergo. These leaders were distinguished by their ability to extract profound insights from breaks from their routine jobs, and to conceive of a new geography, culture, business, organizational role, or idea, as a challenge and opportunity.*7
I'm a generalist by choice, which informs and empowers my communications career. Lots of things naturally interest me. I'm not a generalist because I take or took multi-disciplinary courses (I did). I'm a generalist because I have experience and formal education in a number of fields.
I usually don't disclose the fields (careers) that I have worked in because when I dribble them out over time, no one believes the number of fields that I have worked in... by choice. These include on-air broadcast (personality and newscaster), video production, electronics and electrical, broadcast engineering, acting, medical research and clinical, field service, video conferencing, business management, quality control, manufacturing, psychology (personal and narrative), ministry (pastoral, teaching, writing, counseling), carpentry, automotive, writing (technical, fiction, visual, non-fiction, instruction, journalism), publishing, sales, marketing research and management, product management, instruction and training course development, software programming, Internet and Web technology, plus I worked at a high skill level in most of these, and in management in many of these. Besides these, I have many other interests, such as philosophy, anthropology, theoretical physics, and semiotics. I didn't include farming and digging wells, and the special skills used in each field, such as microbiology and graphic design. Keeping up with any one of these fields is a headache, and keeping up with all of them is not something that I try to do. I forget things faster than I learn them. The bottom line: it is difficult to find something that I can't understand and not communicate effectively to others.
What is a well-rounded education, or a "universally educated person?" It would be impossible for most people to learn all of these fields in college, although I have taken college or independent courses in most of them. I take a very generalist, "eclectic" approach to education. When I want to know something, I take a course in it, and if possible work in the field. Any more I just research something and read some books on it - most of my experience and knowledge now cross over well. I think that what is more helpful to most people is education and experience in other cultures, education and experience working with people in different capacities, education and experience in communication skills, education and experience in seeing the wider picture, and education and experience working with the general public.
We have created a world in which we have withdrawn children from the workforce, and effectively isolated them from work and the world. We have accepted the "funnel" concept of education - pouring knowledge into children and adults, in most cases isolating them from practical experience with that knowledge. Education tends to be divorced from reality and from specific application.
I believe we need to change our models. Children need to be reintroduced into the practical world. They need exposure to employment settings so that they can get some idea what kinds of work they find appealing. We need to avoid specialization (4 year learning) that is a career sentence for life - many people end up hating their degrees. We need to allow people to grow naturally in their careers through their experiences.
We need to allow people to get education as they grow, not force it on them when it applies to nothing in their lives. We need to introduce our world to the rich world of education available to them, not the 12 and 16 year laborious learning that characterizes the educational world. Knowledge and experience cross over to other fields. The more that we do these things, the more education will be tied to experience, improving learning.
Knowledge and education should be free
A service more to the point is providing knowledge. I maintain that knowledge should be free to all, even though capitalism usually finds a way to charge for it. Knowledge tends to get locked away where only "specialists" can get to it. Even in universities, you will find that many books in the library's collection are locked away in professors' offices and made available only to selected students. This is somewhat justified to prevent essential books from walking away from the university, and to keep them available to those who have a pressing need for them. But the effect is to limit people's access to knowledge.
Many such books are out of print and can't be replaced, and unfortunately many people have no qualms about stealing them for their private collection. Even publishers, by default, restrict the flow of information. Books soon go out of print, and they don't reprint them because it is too expensive. The publisher demands copyright ownership, leaving the writer out of control. Copyright restrictions prevent the book from being copied and made available to others. And books go missing from libraries at a terrible rate, or are not shelved because of limited demand. The goal that many institutions have of providing knowledge is modified in scope because capitalism demands that the enterprise be profitable.
Why do I think that knowledge should be free? Because knowledge plays a pivotal role in the progress of humanity, and people should be able to learn from the collective experience of others. This is civilization. Civilization is the home of the traditional library, dating back into ancient history. Information from the oldest known civilization to have writing was preserved in libraries and eventually preserved in the library in Babylon. Ancient Rome had the library in Alexandria, keeping the knowledge of many ancient civilizations. The Roman Catholic Church has the Vatican library, an extensive collection of ancient works dating from as long ago as the third century. Civilizations bring libraries, the Internet, bookstores, magazines, documentaries, meetings of special interest groups and trade associations, and the many other ways that we share information. If capitalism is allowed to hoard knowledge, then humanity is handicapped and suffers.
The real commercial value is in experience, not raw knowledge. For example, when I dug a well I had to know some things about water tables and tools, I had to "master the techniques," I had to physically do the work, and then I had to maintain the well. All of these things had values that were intrinsic to the person digging the well. Most people simply don't want to dig wells, and you don't dig a well simply by reading about it. But if others want to dig a well, they shouldn't have to learn everything the hard way, reinventing the wheel when others have already done it. They should be able to go to their local library or the Internet and find the information.
Similarly, in creating a movie, many people may have tremendous knowledge, having read book after book on how to write a screenplay, but the accomplished storyteller is the one who knows how to write stories that people want to see. The accomplished cinematographer is the one who captures the best action, and the accomplished film editor is the one who presents the action coherently and cinematically.
Just having knowledge doesn't mean that people have the ability to do anything, or that they can provide a service that has value. Yet many elements of our society keep knowledge locked away, and restricting access leads to providing information at a profit, or preventing access completely. This is one of the unintended effects of capitalism.
Historically, knowledge has had critical and profound impact on our world.
Religion: The Roman Catholic Church, in the mid-second millennia and before, had a lock on religious knowledge. The religious literature was held captive in a language that was no longer spoken (Latin), and could be read and interpreted only by church leaders. As a result, the public was uninformed and easily misled.
The church of that era was often involved in political struggles and intrigue, strict control of the people, military adventurism for its own goals, witch hunts that tortured and killed many innocent people, opposition to scientific knowledge that it didn't feel supported the rule of the church or were thought to oppose its beliefs, opposition to individual spirituality and diverse faiths, religious directives that had no sound basis in historical writings, and the leaders were often corrupt, used religion to permit bad deeds, were power hungry, and used religion maliciously. Humanity suffered immensely under church rule.
The advent of the printing press allowed religious knowledge to be circulated. Combined with the vision of certain leaders, as religious knowledge permeated the populace, the role of religious institutions slowly became constrained to religious practice, not the domination and brutal suppression of people.
Magic: In the mid-second millennium and before, superstition ruled. People had no way of separating events and behavior from religious belief and magic. "Sorcerers" and others who purported to do magical things had been common for centuries. Scientific knowledge enabled major changes in the ability of the people to determine for themselves what was a result of faith, and rule out magic as a cause. Earthquakes and violent storms weren't God's retribution on some group of people, they were naturally occurring events; and people couldn't turn iron into gold no matter how strong their "magic" was. Medical science grew out of this ability to understand the world through scientific knowledge.
An example of the benefit of the availability of knowledge is what is occurring today in the medical community. In the past, medical knowledge was in the hands of a few, and physicians were regarded by most as somewhat lesser gods. You did what physicians said, without question. It is still that way in many areas of the world. Many physicians and consumers had reservations about pharmaceutical advertising, and the availability of medical information on the Internet.
Physicians today have discovered something remarkable. The informed patient is much easier to work with. They aren't ruled by rumors and hysteria, and don't flit from one doctor to the next, never trying a therapy long enough to get results. They don't live in fear. They understand quickly and follow directions. Physicians today prefer the well informed patient to others, having discovered that they are much easier to work with.
Politics: In past millennia, rulers were determined by wars and succession was inherited by family line. People looked up to rulers if for no other reason than their power - power to protect them. But this brought with it many bad rulers who treated people horribly. Political succession in most countries is no longer inherited, but selected by the informed vote of the people, and they decide through discussion of agendas and direction... or sound bites for those who aren't willing to inform themselves.
The dissemination of knowledge through print, broadcast, and other media, enables the debate of information, leading to educated responses and attitudes, which leads the world toward peace and decisions that benefit all. People are no longer so easily led by charismatic politicians with harmful agendas, such as genocide and military aggression. People can enter into the debate on social questions, become informed, and vote their conscience.
Industrial Revolution: The Industrial Revolution would not have been possible without the dissemination of knowledge about how to do things that improve our lives. We would still be doing things through exhaustive physical labor that consumed our days and wore out our joints and left us disabled and helpless by age 30 or 50. Energy, transportation, and modern medical equipment would not have been possible.
GI Bill of Rights: Paul Drucker theorized that the GI Bill of Rights gave veterans access to education, which launched a knowledge transformation.*8
Internet: Most knowledge is no longer locked up so that only a few privileged people, or only those who have "advanced" knowledge, have access to it. The Internet has the potential to make all knowledge available to everyone.
The power of knowledge is diminished today by restrictions on availability due to commercial reasons. Universities sell knowledge to students, and prefer to keep knowledge in the hands of professors. MIT has a daring experiment going on now regarding making all professor's course information available to all. I hope that political opposition in the educational community doesn't squelch their endeavor.
Book publishers buy the rights to information and sell it for as long as it makes good money, and then the book goes out of print. The information goes out of circulation as library copies are lost or stolen. Commercial interests prevail and result in holding information captive.
Businesses create information and knowledge at a humongous rate. But businesses lock up their information for competitive reasons, specifically to deny it to others. For example, pharmaceutical research that might help others is locked away to deny other companies the use of it. Even trades people who work in industry and the home, keep their specialized knowledge to themselves to protect their jobs.
It is in the best interests of the public to make knowledge available and keep it available. Knowledge has been responsible for critical transitions in the progress of humanity. The challenge for capitalism is to harness the power of knowledge in business while not keeping it away from the people.
Losing the ability to compete in technology
One example of the way in which other countries will advance competitively beyond the US technologically is in the field of medicine. Currently there are two areas in medicine that are likely to have explosive growth and not reach developmental peaks for many years. One is in the area of curing such things as cancer and genetically linked disease by "targeting" specific cells. In this technique, something like a normally harmless virus is modified to carry a specific piece of DNA to a cell, engage the DNA strand, and repair it. It is a fantastic technology capable of curing things like arterial artery disease (one symptom is high blood pressure), cancer, diabetes, etc., and it is being done right now. This area of research is alive and well in the US.
The second area that promises explosive growth is stem cell research. Stem cells can be used to create replacement organs or tissue, using the cells of the person needing the organ. Stem cells can be obtained from the skin of the person, and then placed into an "egg" to multiply into additional stem cells. At this point, the cells are not differentiated (not having the characteristics of specialized cells). These stem cells can then be "coaxed" to create the specialized cells needed. The new cells can be placed back in the person with no fear of rejection (in most cases) since the body won't reject its own cells. Spinal cord damage, and other nerve injury will also be repaired with this technique. This is a near perfect medical methodology. Thousands of lives could be saved annually in US alone.
This type of research has become outlawed in the US through sweeping laws against the collection and use of stem cells, partly because of fear that aborted fetus material might be used (it isn't), and because some fear the exploitation of women's eggs, and because of the fear of "cloning" human beings (it isn't), and apparently because of religious fears. Yet no aborted material is used, not even placenta or umbilical. For want of a better "container," an unfertilized woman's ovum is used as the "egg," and the hereditary contents (nucleus with the DNA) is removed and discarded. No sperm or other reproductive material is involved. Soon, not even an ovum will be necessary, since a replacement container is within sight.
The protest law has in no way ended the research or changed the technique. What it has caused is currently other nations are racing to fill in the gap left by the US. Scientists who want to do this type of research are leaving the US to go to nations, such as Japan, where it is permitted. Stem cell research is vital to this technique and many other areas of medical research. In a few years, the US will be technologically way behind many other nations, with serious ramifications in many areas of medicine. The result will be simply the inability to compete in the medical arena, and a trail of death and misery from missed organ repair.
The current law neither stops the research and use of stem cells, nor enables research in the US. It simply forces this medical approach overseas while denying US citizens of its use. There is even more legislation pending, such as in Missouri (03/23/04) to make this research a criminal activity. Such laws, if appropriate at all, need serious modification to address the concerns of those opposed, while enabling in a moral and ethical way the needs of researchers and patients. When people fail to inform themselves, superstition again rules.
The challenges for capitalism
What value is capitalism if the end result is to suppress people because they don't have access to knowledge? It isn't knowledge that is valuable to business, but experience - tacit knowledge. The challenges to capitalism are to understand what knowledge has value, to be able to index it so that it can be found with reasonable effort, and to make information available to all people so that the world continues to advance and doesn't return to superstition, which would stop capitalism in its tracks by preventing research into new frontiers.
Article 6 footnotes, references, bibliography
2. Bontis, Nick and Fitz-enz, Jac. Journal of Intellectual Capital; Intellectual capital ROI: a causal map of human capital antecedents and consequents. (2002, Emerald Insight.)
Or go to http://www.emeraldinsight.com, and then select About Our Journals, and then Intellectual Capital, Journal of, and then Special Issue: Measuring Intellectual Capitalism.
3. Drucker, Peter F. Post-Capitalist Society, (1993, HarperCollins, NY.) p8.
4. Vey, Meredith A. and Cantrell, Susan.
Achieving High Performance through Human Capital Development: A Look at the Pharmaceutical Industry. (January 15, 2004, Accenture and Science Magazine.) Study at http://www.accenture.com/xd/xd.asp?it=enweb&xd=_ins\researchnoteabstract_202.xml
5. Drucker, Peter F. Post-Capitalist Society, (1993, HarperCollins, NY.) p38.
6. Ibid., p211.
7. Thomas,Robert J. and Bennis, Warren. Abstract for Leadership Crucibles. (May 10, 2001, Accenture.) Study at http://www.accenture.com/xd/xd.asp?it=enweb&xd=_ins\researchnoteabstract_110.xml
8. Drucker, Peter F. Post-Capitalist Society, (1993, HarperCollins, NY.) p2.
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