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Measuring national intellectual capital: a novel approach

Duc Hong Vo (The CBER – Research Centre in Business, Economics and Resources, Ho Chi Minh City Open University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
Ngoc Phu Tran (The CBER – Research Centre in Business, Economics and Resources, Ho Chi Minh City Open University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 16 February 2021



A very few studies have been conducted to measure a degree of national intellectual capital for selected groups of countries. This paper is conducted to construct a new index of national intellectual capital (INIC) which is simple, quantifiable, relevant and comparable for countries around the globe.


The styudy’s new INIC uses various indicators which are proxies for fundamental aspects of intellectual capital, including (1) human capital, (2) structural capital and (3) relational capital. These indicators are publicly available for many countries. The principal component analysis is utilized to derive the INIC. Various tests have also been conducted to ensure that the new index is appropriate and fit for purpose.


Findings from this paper confirm that the new INIC has a strong correlation of 0.80 with an index developed by Lin et al. (2014) (the LECB index), an advanced INIC to date. The LECB index has been infrequently updated and covered selected countries due to data and information unavailability. In addition, the study’s tests indicate that a high correlation of 0.75 is observed between the study’s index and GDP per capita. The new INIC represents an advancement in relation to its simplicity, quantification, relevance and international comparison across nations.

Practical implications

The estimates of national intellectual capital using the approach in this study will open a new strand of theoretical and empirical studies in relation to national intellectual capital and other economic and social issues of interests. This novel and innovative approach will provide policymakers with a valuable framework to formulate and implement relevant policies to enhance and improve national intellectual capital.


To the best knowledge of the authors, this is the first study of its type, which is conducted to measure national intellectual capital based on publicly available data. Required data cover an extended period of years and a majority of countries. As such, an INIC will enhance transparency and feasibility for international comparison across countries.



Funding: This research is funded by Ho Chi Minh City Open University under the grant number E2021.01.02.


Vo, D.H. and Tran, N.P. (2021), "Measuring national intellectual capital: a novel approach", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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