IC Theory and Public Healthcare





intellectual capital, healthcare management, public sector, reform


The healthcare sector is in crisis worldwide and under pressure from various trends such as digitalization, economic recession, population ageing, and workforce shortfall. This challenges in particular public sector healthcare management’s ability to provide services and meet communities’ growing expectations. Although the value of healthcare organizations is largely based on intellectual capital (IC), such as the experience and skills of professionals, knowledge available through relationships, codified knowledge, and organizational culture, knowledge-related literature in healthcare management has previously focused more on knowledge management activities than on intangibles and their management. Moreover, the public sector is the least examined area in the lC literature. The literature on this specific aspect – IC in public healthcare – has so far focused largely on identifying different aspects of IC rather than recognizing its value in action.  To contribute to this knowledge gap, this article studies the role of intellectual capital in public sector healthcare management to elaborate on this critical component of organizational survival, renewal, and performance. This study aims to elucidate what this topical context requires of the application of IC theory and how it can advance the theoretical approach. Based on a literature review and preliminary empirical data gathered through thematic interviews with knowledge management professionals in a public healthcare organization in the throes of major healthcare reform, this article draws on the importance of intellectual capital in the public healthcare sector.

Author Biographies

Harri Laihonen, University of Eastern Finland

Harri Laihonen is a Professor of Health and Social Management at the University of Eastern Finland. He is specialized in knowledge management and performance management.

Johanna Lammintakanen, University of Eastern Finland

Johanna Lammintakanen is a professor of Health Management Sciences and director of WELMA doctoral programme in University of Eastern Finland.