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Perceived benefits and costs of intellectual capital in small family firms

Michele Grimaldi (University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Cassino, Italy)
Livio Cricelli (University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Cassino, Italy)
Marco Greco (University of Cassino and Southern Lazio, Cassino, Italy)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 11 April 2016

Abstract

Purpose

Despite the flourishing literature on intellectual capital (IC), few studies explored its features in the perspective of family firms, and even fewer focussed on small family firms (SFFs). The purpose of this paper is to analyze how managers and senior employees in SFFs perceive the benefits and costs of intellectual capital assets (ICAs) and provides many insights for future researches.

Design/methodology/approach

Taking the lead from the constructivist epistemology, this instrumental study describes the implementation of a framework for the assessment of ICAs into four SFFs in order to develop general theoretical principles.

Findings

Among the findings, it stands out that most SFFs in the sample especially rely on their internal processes and on their human resources’ knowledge and competences. Furthermore, the authors found much internal disagreement with respect to the expected costs of investing on ICAs, especially within firms operating in more turbulent markets.

Research limitations/implications

Being referred to a multiple case study, the results may not be generalized to other organizations. Nevertheless, they are useful to build theory, either by verification of falsification, and to encourage their future testing in empirical papers.

Practical implications

The implementation of the framework allows identifying internal disagreement with respect to the ICAs’ costs and benefits and exploring their causes. Furthermore, it suggests which should be the ICAs deserving primary attention in order to have the best impact on value creation.

Originality/value

The paper investigates IC in SFFs, thus contributing to fill a remarkable gap in IC literature.

Keywords

Citation

Grimaldi, M., Cricelli, L. and Greco, M. (2016), "Perceived benefits and costs of intellectual capital in small family firms", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 351-372. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIC-06-2015-0055

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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