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Intellectual capital and resilience in torn societies

Alain Daou (Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Jay Joseph (Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Dalia Sabah Yousif (University of Kurdistan Hewlêr, Erbil, Iraq)
Ramzi Fathallah (Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon)
Gerald Reyes (United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Geneva, Switzerland)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 5 September 2019

Issue publication date: 1 October 2019




The purpose of this paper is to explore the association between intellectual capital (IC) and resilience in torn societies while proposing an integrative framework. Due to adversities faced by entrepreneurs in such contexts, an understanding of the role of resilience along with IC has become crucial for businesses to succeed and survive.


This study takes an in-depth look at the three components of IC – human, organizational and external capital and their association with resilience. In order to do so, a qualitative study on 17 Iraqi micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) was conducted using data collected through semi-structured interviews with the founders. The interviews were translated and coded by native speakers.


The results suggest that IC and resilience are interrelated concepts where IC components contribute to the resilience capabilities of entrepreneurs to survive and continue their businesses during turbulent times.

Practical implications

Implications for managers and policymakers are presented; in brief, strategies and policies are required to support entrepreneurial success in the Iraqi context.


The study contributes to the literature on IC for entrepreneurs. So far, few studies have dealt with the association between IC and resilience, and less so in torn societies. This paper contributes to research on enterprise development and survival under conflict zones; it highlights some of the factors that could form resilience of a MSME in the face of uncertainty; and it contributes to the literature on IC as it helps us understand certain capacities that build up and/or support MSME resilience in such a context.



This work was supported by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in Iraq under project number 150328/160138; the Business in Conflict Areas Research Group (BICAR) at the Olayan School of Business; (OSB) and by the University Research Board (URB) at the American University of Beirut under project number 103606. The authors would like to thank Amani Fakih for her support and commitment to this project.


Daou, A., Joseph, J., Yousif, D.S., Fathallah, R. and Reyes, G. (2019), "Intellectual capital and resilience in torn societies", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 598-618.



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Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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