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Intellectual capital in family firms: human capital identification and measurement

Enrique Claver-Cortés (Department of Management, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain)
Patrocinio Carmen Zaragoza-Sáez (Department of Management, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain)
Hipólito Molina-Manchón (Department of Management, UNIVERSITY OF ALICANTE, Alicante, Spain)
Mercedes Úbeda-García (Department of Management, University of Alicante, Alicante, Spain)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 12 January 2015




Based on the literature devoted to family firms and the intellectual capital-based view of the firm, the purpose of this paper is not only to identify the most important human capital intangibles owned by family firms but also to show a number of indicators that can help measure them.


A qualitative case-study-based research approach was adopted taking as reference: 25 family firms belonging to different sectors; previous works existing in the literature; and the intellectus model.


The present study identifies ten intangibles associated with the human capital of family firms and shows 60 indicators that can be used to measure them. It additionally provides empirical evidence and gives examples of these intangibles through the analysis of 25 international family firms.

Research limitations/implications

The difficulty in collecting all the human capital intangibles of family firms; the problems associated with the creation of accurate indicators; and those specific to the research methodology adopted.

Practical implications

Identifying the human capital intangibles of family firms and their indicators can help managers become aware of their importance, and this will consequently help them improve their management. This could be an interesting starting point to value these intangibles in the balance sheet as well as to draw comparisons between family and non-family organisations.


The framework provided by family firms sheds light on several intangibles specific to these firms – precisely for their condition as “family” firms. Those intangibles – human capital intangibles being especially highlighted in this study – provide the basis for the achievement of competitive advantages.



©Proceedings of the 5th European Conference on Intellectual Capital: ECIC 2013.


Claver-Cortés, E., Zaragoza-Sáez, P.C., Molina-Manchón, H. and Úbeda-García, M. (2015), "Intellectual capital in family firms: human capital identification and measurement", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 199-223.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Authors

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