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Relational capital and knowledge transfer in universities

Paola Paoloni (UNISU, Universita degli Studi Niccolo Cusano, Rome, Italy)
Francesca Maria Cesaroni (Universita Degli Studi di Urbino Dipartimento di Economia Societa Politica, Urbino, Italy)
Paola Demartini (Department of Business Studies, University of Rome TRE, Rome, Italy)

Business Process Management Journal

ISSN: 1463-7154

Article publication date: 4 July 2018

Issue publication date: 8 February 2019



The importance of relational capital for the university has grown enormously in recent years. In fact, relational capital allows universities to promote and emphasize the effectiveness of the third mission. The purpose of this paper is to propose a case study involving an Italian university that recently set up a new research observatory, and, thanks to its success, succeeded in enhancing its relational capital.


The authors adopted an action research approach to analyze the case study. Consistently, the authors followed the analysis, diagnosis, and intervention phases. First, the authors focused on the identification of the strengths and weaknesses of the process through which the university created relational capital, and finally, the authors proposed solutions to improve the process.


This case study shows that the creation of relation capital for the host university was the result of a process of transfer and transformation of the individual relationships of the observatory’s promoters.


This paper contributes to filling a significant gap in the literature on relational capital and universities and provides useful insights into how these organizations can encourage its creation. It also allows scholars, managers, and politicians involved in higher education to gain a greater understanding of this relevant topic.



F.M. Cesaroni, P. Demartini and P. Paoloni equally contributed to this work. The authors were listed in alphabetical order.


Paoloni, P., Cesaroni, F.M. and Demartini, P. (2019), "Relational capital and knowledge transfer in universities", Business Process Management Journal, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 185-201.



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