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Assessing human capital in knowledge intensive business services

Paola Demartini (Associate Professor at the University of Rome 3, Rome, Italy)
Paola Paoloni (Assistant Professor at the University of Human Sciences “N. Cusano”, in Rome, Italy)

Measuring Business Excellence

ISSN: 1368-3047

Article publication date: 15 November 2011




The purpose of this paper is to address human capital (HC) evaluation methods in service industries. As suggested by literature some services may be as different from others as they are from products. Thus there is a great need for studies clarifying the distinctions between different service‐oriented firms with respect to the role and the measurement of intellectual capital (IC) and, in particular, of human capital, which is generally considered as the most significant element of IC.


An action‐research approach has been followed. Action research attempts to combine the process of research and action based on the key assumption that one can never really understand any human system without trying to change it.


The research focused on a high‐tech service company. The paper suggests that methods to measure human capital should consider, as a key factor, the firm's project management organisation. In fact, the temporary nature of projects stands in contrast to operations which are repetitive to produce products or services. In practice, the management of these two systems is often found to be quite different, and as such requires the development of distinct technical skills.


As far as IC literature offers several IC frameworks and suggests several tools, the paper's goal is not to develop a new one but to highlight the process leading to implement IC framework in practice.



Demartini, P. and Paoloni, P. (2011), "Assessing human capital in knowledge intensive business services", Measuring Business Excellence, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 16-26.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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