A new perspective on the role of intangible resources in business strategy
This study is concerned with the role of intangible resources in business strategy. Intangible resources range from intellectual property rights, through contracts and databases, to the more subjective, or "people dependent" factors of reputation and know-how. Sustainable competitive advantage results from the possession of relevant capability differentials. Regulatory and positional capabilities are concerned with assets, such as patents, or reputation; functional and cultural capabilities are concerned with competencies, such as speedy response to customer demand, or the ability of the organisation as a whole to cope with change. The theoretical part of this study is concerned with identifying the nature and characteristics of intangible resources, and with the development of a framework which links the different kinds of intangible resource to the four capabilities. This framework is used as the basis of a new technique which aims to identify the relative contribution which intangible resources make to competitive advantage. In order to place this analysis technique in context a review of the strategic management literature was carried out. The empirical part of this study comprised structured sur veys of chief executives, specifically: a pilot postal survey, a national postal survey, and six case studies. The main finding of the postal surveys was that the intangible resources which make the most important contribution to business si-ccess are reputation, employee know-how and organisational culture. The main finding of the case studies was that the framework linking intangible resources to the four capabilities does provide a new perspective for viewing the role of intangibles, and it can be a useful aid to facilitate communications. The major contribution to knowledge claimed for this study is that of treating the issue of intangible resources as a coherent subject; it is hoped that the study will provide a new perspective with which both academics, and practising managers, can view strategic issues.