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Intellectual capital and performance: Taxonomy of components and multi-dimensional analysis axes

Eugénia Pedro (Department of Management and Economics, University of Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal)
João Leitão (Department of Management and Economics, University of Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal)
Helena Alves (Department of Management and Economics, University of Beira Interior, Covilha, Portugal)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 12 March 2018



The purpose of this paper is to determine the predominant classification of intellectual capital (IC), in terms of components, using the literature of reference on the relationship between IC and performance and considering multi-dimensional analysis axes (MAAs): organisational, regional and national.


A systematic literature review (SLR) is presented focussing on empirical studies on IC published in the period 1960-2016. A protocol for action is defined and a research question is raised, gathering data from the databases of: Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar. A social network analysis is also provided to determine the type of networks embracing groups, IC individual components and performance type.


Of the 777 papers included in the SLR, 189 deal with the relationship between IC and performance. The paper highlights the greater development of empirical studies starting from 2004; the organisational MAA is the most studied. The most frequently used groups of components in studies dealing with IC’s influence on performance corresponds to a triad of human capital; structural (organisational or process) capital; and relational (social or customer) capital, which determine positively the performance of organisations/regions/countries, but their influence is not linear and depends on various factors associated with the context and surrounding environment.

Practical implications

This study has wide-ranging implications for politicians/governments, managers and academics, providing empirical evidence about the relationships between the components of IC and performance, by MAAs, and a global vision and better understanding of how those IC components have developed and how they are related to performance.


Due to the high number of references covering a wide range of disciplines and the various dimensions (e.g. organisational, regional and national) that form IC, it becomes fundamental to carry out an SRL and systematise its MAAs to deepen knowledge about what has been discovered/developed in this domain, in terms of empirical studies, in order to situate the topic in a wider theoretical-practical context. The paper is exceptionally wide-ranging, covering the period 1960-2016. It is one of the first clarifying studies on systemisation of the literature on IC, by MAA, and an in-depth study of IC’s impact on the performance of organisations/regions and countries which may serve as a guideline for future studies using the taxonomy proposed.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the editor and the anonymous reviewers for providing very constructive and useful comments that enabled us to make additional efforts to improve the clarity and quality of our research and correct some inaccuracies present in the previous version of our manuscript. The first author acknowledges the support given by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) and by Programa Operacional Capital Humano: financing co-participated by Fundo Social Europeu (FSE) and funds of the Ministério da Educação e da Ciência (grant number SFRH/BD/107927/2015). The second author also acknowledges the grant given by FCT: SFRH/BSAB/127908/2016.


Pedro, E., Leitão, J. and Alves, H. (2018), "Intellectual capital and performance: Taxonomy of components and multi-dimensional analysis axes", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 407-452.



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