Measure and Manage: Intangible Assets Metric Standards for Sustainability

  • William P. FisherJr.


To be feasible as components of a business model, social and environmental sustainability practices must be accountable for their returns on investment. Sustainability hinges on the comprehensive, long-term management of all the forms of capital necessary for profitability. Management, in turn, depends heavily on standards—measurement, legal, and financial standards essential to common product definitions, to proving ownership, to pricing, to knowing the quantity and quality of what is traded, and to evaluating where the business stands, where it has been, and where it is going relative to its overall objective. Counts and percentages of events, assessment ratings, or survey responses are often treated as sufficient to the task of measuring sustainability performances and outcomes in business. These kinds of numbers are the obvious and natural place to start in conceiving and designing measures of the intangible assets, performances, and outcomes essential to sustainability. Multiple benefits accrue from building on these intuitively sound beginnings to calibrated tools and universally uniform standards better able to serve the needs of sustainable business practices. Foremost among these benefits is the fact that measures adaptable to the changing needs of business will better support stable profits sustainable over the long term than measures that require business to adapt to their needs.


Stakeholder Theory Natural Capital Intangible Asset Item Banking Computerize Adaptive Test 
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© Joan Marques, Satinder Dhiman, and Svetlana Holt 2012

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  • William P. FisherJr.

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