The threefold purpose of this paper is to reflect on the evolution and transformation of the Journal of Intellectual Capital (JIC) over the past 20 years, to project its future research directions, and, finally, to propose an IC ecosystem.
We adopted a combination of a narrative and a systematic review of 700 JIC papers appearing in the journal in its entirety, from Volume 1 (2000) to Volume 20 (2019). The categorization of topics is based on the frequency of keywords in the titles of the papers.
Scholars have proposed four stages of intellectual capital (IC) research: definition/awareness, measurement/management, implementation/strategy, and ecosystem. Over the past 20 years, a total of 16 special issues were published in the journal. The five topics with the highest paper counts in descending order are country-specific studies, concept papers, reporting and disclosure, measurement and performance. Four issues require the researcher’s special attention: theoretical development, IC research methodology, national intellectual capital, and data collection. An IC ecosystem is proposed to invite discussion and refinement. For future research, ecosystem-oriented and interdisciplinary research are suggested. Research design aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goals are encouraged.
Intellectual capital research has implications for four major types of stakeholders, namely academia, government agencies, practitioners, and top management team of organizations. The major limitation of this research is that this review of twenty years of intellectual capital research is limited exclusively to the papers published in the JIC; IC papers published in relevant journals or conferences were not included.
This paper presents a comprehensive review of the articles published in the first 20 volumes of the JIC. The field of intellectual capital has evolved from the social construction of IC knowledge to IC knowledge diffusion and inheritance. Hopefully, a fully developed IC ecosystem will eventually emerge. IC researchers can position themselves in the IC research continuum and devise distinctive pathways to enhance their contributions to the transformation of IC research.
Acknowledgment: The first author would like to thank Prof. Leif Edvinsson for encouraging me to write up this reflection paper.
Lin, C.Y.Y. and Edvinsson, L. (2021), "Reflections on JIC’s twenty-year history and suggestions for future IC research", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 439-457. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIC-03-2020-0082
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