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A quality evaluation approach to disclosing third mission activities and intellectual capital in Italian universities

Daniela Di Berardino (Department of Business Administration and Management, University of Chieti-Pescara, Pescara, Italy)
Christian Corsi (Faculty of Communication Sciences, University of Teramo, Teramo, Italy)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 8 January 2018




Using the quality evaluation approach, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the contribution of intellectual capital (IC) to the development of the third mission in Italian universities, defining the impact of these activities in the regional context. This research aims to verify if the mandatory reporting on quality discloses the contribution of IC to value creation, enhancing the universities’ awareness about IC management and third mission development.


The convergence between IC framework and quality evaluation approach is tested through an empirical research on a sample of 71 Italian universities funded by the government. Statistical analyses use data collected for the period 2004-2014 during the national assessment for research activity and third mission performance. The impact of third mission on the university ecosystem is verified using the indexes related to the territorial development rates.


This research found significant IC disclosure in the quality evaluation model and it highlights the possible integration between the IC measures and the quality evaluation indicators. The research findings show also a positive impact of third mission activities in the university ecosystem and the relevant role of structural capital and relational capital in the development of third mission. These findings encourage a collegial discussion in the university governance and among academics, stimulating a strategic behavior in the whole system

Research limitations/implications

The paper focuses the attention on research activity and third mission, considering the final results provided by an external stakeholder of university. Further research must include the role of teaching activity and the opinion of universities’ managers, researchers and administrative staff.


Following the neo-institutional sociology perspective, this research analyses for the first time the convergence between the solid experience of quality assessment and the immature IC culture in Italian universities. This analysis explores the value created by intangible activities in the university ecosystem, with a longitudinal perspective, contributing to the fourth stage of the IC literature.



Di Berardino, D. and Corsi, C. (2018), "A quality evaluation approach to disclosing third mission activities and intellectual capital in Italian universities", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 178-201.



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Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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