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Ten years of using knowledge balance sheets in Austrian public universities: A retrospective and prospective view

Michael Habersam (Universität Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)
Martin Piber (Universität Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)
Matti Skoog (Abo Akademi, Abo, Finland)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 8 January 2018




The purpose of this paper is to present the findings of a longitudinal study on the use of mandatory knowledge balance sheets (KBS) in Austrian public universities. It contributes to the discourse on fourth-stage intellectual capital (IC) research. Conclusions drawn from the analysis of the empirical material are expected to focus further research on fourth-stage IC and to improve practices of IC disclosure.


A mandatory KBS has been used to govern the Austrian Higher Education Institution sector for more than a decade. In a qualitative longitudinal case study, the authors analyze two series of qualitative interviews and documents in order to reveal functional and dysfunctional effects of the KBS in use.


The conclusions focus on the communicative culture in the implementation process, the way change processes are organized and the value of strategy for orientation, sense making and an effective allocation of resources.

Practical implications

The practical implications are twofold: first, to identify aspects of monetary, utilitarian, social and environmental value dimensions, a concerted effort to embed quantitative data in a discourse on qualitative impact on value would be needed. Second, the authors support a “communicative culture first” rather than a “tool-box first” approach.


Original empirical data have been gathered in a longitudinal study of a valuable and unique case. Retrospectively, a better understanding of the top-down implementation of the KBS and its pitfalls is achieved.



The authors would like to thank the interviewees, two anonymous reviewers, and the guest editors for their competent assistance.


Habersam, M., Piber, M. and Skoog, M. (2018), "Ten years of using knowledge balance sheets in Austrian public universities: A retrospective and prospective view", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 34-52.



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