Knowledge has come to be viewed as an advantage in its own right and not simply as an improvement of other kinds of assets. Prompted by the rapid spread of the information economy, knowledge assets have only begun to be thought of as economic goods. In contrast to physical assets, knowledge assets could in theory last forever. This chapter briefly summarizes the working hypothesis that will be established in the rest of the book, namely that a firm's distinctive competences, its capabilities, and its technologies can be observed as emerging from the discontinuous effect of its knowledge assets on the spatio-temporal and energy systems that make up its physical assets. Technologies, competences, and capabilities, each in their own system, are manifestations of a firm's knowledge assets operating at diverse levels of organization.
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