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Measuring what people know

OECD report

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Gráinne Conole
1 April 2009

Is human capital accounting theoretically possible and practically feasible? Economists estimate human capital on the basis of years of schooling or formal educational attainment levels regardless of actual productive capacity. Financial accounting and reporting ignore even these crude measures, leaving human capital off the balance sheet for want of rules or conventions. A review of innovative policies in OECD countries shows that progress has already been made in moving beyond the poor information provided by standardized educational certification. Spurred by the emerging "knowledge economy", government policy makers, human resource managers, financial accountants and educators are developing methods for systematically evaluating and recording knowledge assets acquired through experience, education and training. This book explains why it is possible, in terms of economic theory, and feasible, from the perspective of accounting practices, to implement new human capital information and decision-making systems.

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