The Business Knowledge Gap

SEATTLE, WA (Feb. 13, 2008) - The dearth of business acumen is an important issue in organizations - particularly among managers - according to a recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). The study showed that of the nearly 400 respondents, 25% feel that the lack of knowledge among organizational leaders has a "very great" impact, while 40% consider the impact "high" and 27% feel it is "moderate." For individual contributors (such as engineers and white-collar professionals), the negative impact is seen as moderate (40%) to high (35%).

"A lack of business acumen among managers is like a lack of swimming skills among lifeguards: It's dangerous and just shouldn't happen," notes Mark Vickers, i4cp's vice president of research. "But, the survey suggests that others can benefit from such skills as well, including engineers and technical staff. If the people building the products and the infrastructure of the organization don't ‘get' the business issues, they're less likely to produce what their customers - both internal and external - actually need."

View i4cp's action plan for building business acumen in your organization.

Regarding the lack of business acumen at the technical level, 34% of the respondents rate their company's concern over the issue as "high" or "very high." When those who see it as a problem to a "moderate" extent are added, the number jumps to 83%.

And, while the majority of the respondents feel that business acumen is important, they are spending very little money to develop that competency. According to the study findings, a full 67% spend less than $1,000 on business acumen training.

Additionally, the problem isn't only local. Forty-one percent of respondents say the problem is domestic, 21% consider it an issue globally and 38% say it is both domestic and global.

When it comes to addressing the knowledge deficit problem, the most common approach is in-house training, favored by 70% of respondents, followed by off-the-shelf training options at 42%. Recipients of the training are mostly managers and above (50%) and high-potential candidates (46%). For the training, most companies (56%) rely on training companies, while 54% turn to consultants.

The Business Acumen Practitioner Pulse Survey was conducted by i4cp, in conjunction with, in January 2008 and had 394 responding companies.

About i4cp, inc.

i4cp is the world's largest private network of corporations focused on improving workforce productivity. Our vendor-free community facilitates innovation by giving our members - among the largest and most respected organizations in the world - access to:
  1. Peers to identify new ideas and prevent "reinventing the wheel."
  2. Research to understand current practices and next practices.
  3. Tools to put ideas and research into action.
  4. Technology to easily access tailored information and execute workforce strategies.

With more than 40 years of experience and the industry's largest team of human capital analysts, i4cp is the definitive destination for organizations seeking innovative ways to improve workforce productivity.


Greg Pernula
Director of Research Services, i4cp, inc.
(727) 345-2226