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Intellectual capital management in the fourth stage of IC research: A critical case study in university settings

Giustina Secundo (Department of Innovation for Engineering, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy)
Maurizio Massaro (Department of Statistics and Economic Sciences, Udine University, Udine, Italy)
John Dumay (Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)
Carlo Bagnoli (Department of Management, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Venice, Italy)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 8 January 2018




The purpose of this paper is to present a case study of a university that uses a collective intelligence approach for managing its intellectual capital (IC). Specifically, the authors investigate how one of Europe’s oldest business schools, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (Italy), manages IC through stakeholder engagement to achieve academia’s third mission so contributing to social and economic development.


Data are collected through semi-structured interviews and Ca’ Foscari University’s strategic plan. Secundo et al.’s (2016) collective intelligence framework is used to analyse the data. Alvesson and Deetz’s (2000, pp. 19-20) critical management tasks – insight, critique and transformative redefinition – are adopted to frame and discuss the results.


On the assumption that a university is a collective intelligence system, the findings demonstrate that IC management needs to change to incorporate an ecosystem perspective, reflecting the fourth stage of IC research. The IC management at the university incorporates its core goal (what), the collective involvement of internal and external stakeholders to achieve the goal (who), the motivations behind the achievement of the goal (why) and, finally, the processes activated inside the university (how) and indicators to assess value creation.

Research limitations/implications

A new perspective for managing IC in universities that adopts a collective intelligence approach is further developed. Contributions to the fourth stage of IC research – IC in an ecosystem – are highlighted that expand the concept of IC value creation beyond universities into wider society.

Practical implications

Two key consequences of this case study are that more stakeholders have become involved in IC management and that IC management requires critical rethinking, given the universities’ evolving role.


This paper brings together issues that are usually dealt with in separate domains of the literature: IC management and collective intelligence in the university setting.



Secundo, G., Massaro, M., Dumay, J. and Bagnoli, C. (2018), "Intellectual capital management in the fourth stage of IC research: A critical case study in university settings", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 157-177.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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