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Territorial capital as a company intangible: Exploratory evidence from ten Italian multinational corporations

Mariachiara Barzotto (Department of Economics, Ca' Foscari University Venice, Venice, Italy)
Giancarlo Corò (Department of Economics, Ca' Foscari University Venice, Venice, Italy)
Mario Volpe (Department of Economics, Ca' Foscari University Venice, Venice, Italy)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 11 January 2016




The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, to explore to what extent being located in a territory is value-relevant for a company. Second, to understand if a company is aware of, and how it can sustain, the territorial tangible and intangible assets present in the economic area in which it is located.


The study presents an empirical multiple case-study, investigating ten mid-/large-sized Italian companies in manufacturing sectors.


The results indicate that the sampled manufacturing companies are intertwined with the environment in which they are embedded, both in their home country and in host ones. The domestic territorial capital has provided, and still provides, enterprises with workers endowed with the necessary technical skills that they can have great difficulty in finding in other places. In turn, companies support territorial capital generation through their activities.

Research limitations/implications

To increase the generalisability of the results, future research should expand the sample and examine firms based in different countries and sectors.

Practical implications

Implications for policy makers: developing effective initiatives to support and guide a sustainable territorial capital growth. Implications for managers and investors: improving managerial and investors’ decisions by disclosing a complete picture of the enterprise, also outside the firm boundaries.


The study contributes to intangibles/intellectual capital literature by shedding light on the importance of including territorial capital in a company’s report to improve the definition of the firm’s value. Accounting of the territorial capital would increase the awareness of the socio-economic environment value in which companies are located and its use.



The authors would like to thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for providing detailed and constructive comments and suggestions. Earlier versions of this study were presented at the 2014 Workshop on Intangibles, Intellectual Capital and Extra-financial Information, c.MET05 Workshop and GVC Research Cluster Workshop at the Birmingham Business School, UK. They thank these audiences. The authors also thank Lisa De Propris and Timothy Sturgeon for helpful comments and discussions related to this paper. The research reported in this paper was supported by the project “Skills and new vocations requirements in the evolving value chain in the supply base of Veneto” Cod. 2120/101/21/1148/2013 - Dgr 1,148, funded by the European Social Fund. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support provided by the S.VE.C. Core Consulting Group (Vicenza, Italy) and the companies that were part of this research project.


Barzotto, M., Corò, G. and Volpe, M. (2016), "Territorial capital as a company intangible: Exploratory evidence from ten Italian multinational corporations", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 148-167.



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