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The moderating effect of firm size on relational capital and firm performance: Evidence from Europe

Antonio Corvino (Department of Economics, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy)
Francesco Caputo (Department of Pharmacy, University of Salerno, Salerno, Italy)
Marco Pironti (ICxT Interdepartmental Center, University of Turin, Turin, Italy)
Federica Doni (Department of Business and Law, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milano, Italy)
Silvio Bianchi Martini (Department of Economics and Management, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 1 October 2019

Issue publication date: 1 October 2019




The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the ongoing debate regarding the relationship between relational capital (RC) and firm performance, by investigating the moderation effect of firm size and its key role in defining conditions for competitive advantage.


The paper uses the interpretative lens of the resource dependence theory, and refreshes consolidated studies rooted in RC. It identifies a set of variables to measure the influence of RC on firm performance, including the cost of goods sold, interest expenses and earnings per share. Content analysis was used to capture specific features of corporate disclosure tools using 51 items pertinent to RC. The authors used a specific disclosure index drawing on data collected from 73 listed firms in France, Germany, Italy and the UK. Data covering the period from 2011 to 2013 were analyzed using six regression models.


Firm size has a moderating effect on the relationship between RC and some variables linked to firm performance.


The study combines an internal and external perspective to investigate the interplay between firms and market environments, and therefore, enriches the ongoing debate concerning the relationship between RC and firm performance. It outlines possible ways through which RC can become an effective source of competitive advantage.



Corvino, A., Caputo, F., Pironti, M., Doni, F. and Bianchi Martini, S. (2019), "The moderating effect of firm size on relational capital and firm performance: Evidence from Europe", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 510-532.



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