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Measuring intellectual capital in a firm belonging to a strategic alliance

Stefania Veltri (Department of Business Economics, University of Calabria, Arcavacata di Rende (CS), Italy)
Andrea Venturelli (Department of Management, Economics, Mathematics and Statistics, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy)
Giovanni Mastroleo (Department of Management, Economics, Mathematics and Statistics, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 12 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a method to measure intellectual capital (IC) in firms involved in strategic alliances, an area that has received scant attention in the literature, as existing research is focused mainly on organizational level mainly and increasingly on macro-level unit such as regions or nations. There are very few works at the meso-level (i.e. alliances, clusters), and the paper aims to fill this void, by providing researchers and practitioners with a tool capable of combining measurement and management aims, developed at organizational level with the active participation of the researchers.

Design/methodology/approach

The method of analysis is based on a model formalized through a fuzzy expert system (FES). The FES are able to merge the capabilities of an expert system to simulate the decision-making process with the vagueness typical of human reasoning, maintaining the ability to still have a numeric value as a response. Its construction requires the participation of experts, whose knowledge of the problem is accumulated in the form of blocks of rules. These features make it possible to formalize the decision-making process related to the IC valuation, handling qualitative and quantitative variables, and exploring the cognitive mechanisms underlying this process.

Findings

The outcome of the application is a system designed to measure the intangible performance deriving from participation in a strategic alliance using FES. This study contributes to the broadening of the research community’s understanding regarding the alternative measurement of IC created within strategic alliances.

Research limitations/implications

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, IC literature lacks methods expressly designed to measure the incremental value of IC originating from collaboration among firms. From a measurement perspective, the results may be regarded as valuable proof that IC performance within strategic alliances can be measured quantitatively.

Practical implications

On the management side, the possibility of retracing the determinants of different IC intermediate indicators composing the final IC index allows strategic alliances managers to use this information for decision-making purposes.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge this is the first study applying FES to measure IC in a firm belonging to a strategic alliance. In the authors’ opinion, fuzzy logic methodology, recently applied in empirical work designed to evaluate IC, represents a reliable methodology because of the “fuzzy” nature of IC.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Some of the ideas of this paper have been presented at the 9th International Conference IFKAD, 11-13 June, Matera 2014. The author thanks all participants of the meetings for their helpful insights. They also thanks two anonymous reviewers and the editor of this Journal for their helpful comments on previous drafts of the paper. Though this work is the fruit of joint reflection and collaboration, for academic reasons the Sections 1 and 2 are to be attributed to Stefania Veltri, the Sections 3 and 5 are to be attributed to Andrea Venturelli and the Sections 4 and 6 are to be attributed to Giovanni Mastroleo.

Citation

Veltri, S., Venturelli, A. and Mastroleo, G. (2015), "Measuring intellectual capital in a firm belonging to a strategic alliance", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 174-198. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIC-06-2014-0069

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited