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Building intellectual capital in incubated technology firms

Clare G. Gately (Department of Business, Management and Organisation, Waterford Institute of Technology, Waterford, Ireland)
James A. Cunningham (J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics and Whitaker Institute, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 7 October 2014




The value of relational capital generated by entrepreneurs with their internal and external environment (Hormiga et al., 2011a, b), provides considerable resources when properly leveraged. It is particularly important in environments such as the high tech sector of incomplete information and weak economic markets such as new products, markets or technologies (Davidsson and Honig, 2003). The purpose of this paper is to examine how incubated technology entrepreneurs build relational capital for a new venture formation in the social context of a Higher Education Institution.


The study took a qualitative approach based on content analysis of business plans and in-depth interviews with 25 technology entrepreneurs on an incubation programme – South East Enterprise Platform Programme – for technology graduates in the South East of Ireland.


The study found that technology entrepreneurs during new venture formation engaged in four types of relational capital activities, namely, development of networks and contacts, relationship building, accessing and leveraging knowledge experts and members of associations.

Practical implications

Incubator programmes need to actively support social building activities of technology entrepreneurs. Higher Education Institutes knowledge assets and networks are critical elements in supporting incubator technology entrepreneurs.

Originality value

The study identified four types of relational capital building. The authors also found using Jones-Evans (1995) categorisation of technology entrepreneurs that users, producers, opportunists and non-technical entrepreneurs engaged in client focused relational capital building, whereas researcher types networked with service providers and displayed arms length relational capital building styles.



The authors wish to thank the technology entrepreneurs who participated in the study and the special issue editors for their feedback.


G. Gately, C. and A. Cunningham, J. (2014), "Building intellectual capital in incubated technology firms", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 516-536.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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