Futurizing the Intellectual Capital Theory





intellectual capital, digitalization, remote work, sustainability, resilience, theory


Intellectual capital theory (IC) theory, which asserts that organisational value is for the most part created with intangible, knowledge-based resources, has become a prevalent way to approach the notion of business viability. Most IC research leans on the classical tripod of IC components, laid down by the first-generation researchers in the field. This tripod divides the value-generating knowledge assets into human capital, structural capital and relational capital; or, more simply put the value vested in an organisation’s personnel, internal structures and processes, and relationships. Even though this conceptualization has been challenged by some, it still remains the cornerstone of the IC-based view of the firm, and it is astutely followed by most researchers in this field. However, various large-scale technological, socio-political, and institutional changes have fundamentally changed the business environment and worklife in recent years. In this paper we argue that these changes call for a critical examination of the relevance of the classical conceptualizations of IC. It may be necessary to update the understanding concerning not only the most essential knowledge resources, but also the structure of IC and the way in which IC is related with new relevant organisational capabilities and aspects of organisational performance. The aim of this theoretical paper is to provide an overview of some of the most essential recent worklife trends that are likely to impact how IC should be understood: digitalization, remote work, gig work, open innovation, crowdsourcing, strive towards sustainability and resilience. Based on these, the paper puts forth a set of propositions concerning the needed novel perspectives for IC. In addition to constructing a novel theoretical framework and propositions for IC research, the paper functions as an introduction to the mini track on Futurizing the Intellectual Capital Theory and provides a common framework on which mini track participants can base their dialogue.