An analysis of Intellectual Capital within a social enterprise context

  • Neil Jones

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The aim of this research was to undertake an analysis of how intellectual capital was employed within social enterprises. In support of this aim, following the literature review, three research questions were developed. These were developed to investigate how the individual constructs of intellectual capital (human, structural and relational capital) were employed within the organisation. The conceptual framework was introduced as a model adapted from Sveiby’s (1997) intangible assets monitor and Kong’s (2010b) intellectual capital constructs.

    A comprehensive literature review was undertaken that identified the major academic concepts associated with intellectual capital and the contemporary academic issues associated with it. The research was undertaken in an interpretevist style and took a qualitative form. It used a case study method with document analysis, questionnaires and interviews used as the scientific instruments. It utilised a cross sectional approach with the researcher holding an insider position.

    Findings gathered from the research were, after transcription, managed by the NVivo computer product. The findings were sought by examining the data according to the three individual intellectual capital constructs. Major findings were identified, relationships noted where appropriate and then evidenced according to each of the intellectual capital constructs.

    These findings were then analysed in conjunction with the results of the literature review. They were argued for, where appropriate, in terms of their originality and contribution to knowledge and practice. Primarily this research argues that it has made contributions to knowledge by enhancing Sveiby’s (1997) and Kong’s (2010b) models (which were adapted to form this research’s conceptual framework). In addition to this a number of contributions are argued for research question one. Specifically this research has developed Benevene and Cortini’s (2010) and Mesa’s (2010) research on training and experience within social enterprises. Kong’s (2010b) research upon the concept of un-learning was also developed. For research question two this thesis argues for development of the concepts of innovation in social enterprises (Kong, 2010b), trust and its link to motivation (Reychav and Sharkie, 2010) and the effect of age and pace of social enterprises on intellectual capital (Kong and Ramia, 2010). With reference to research question three the development of Frooman’s (1999) and Fletcher et al.’s (2003) concepts of stakeholder management are proposed. Contribution to practice is argued for in respect of the cultural legacy of staff transferred into the organisation (Kong, 2010b), informal methods of performance management (Sillanpaa, 2010) and the need to more effectively manage stakeholder groups (Frooman, 1999; Fletcher et al. 2003).

    The research concluded by stating that it had answered the individual research questions and had therefore met the overall research aim. Limitations, specifically around the age of the organisation, the small amount of extant literature available for intellectual capital within social enterprises and the cross-sectional nature of this research were highlighted. Further research avenues were stated as the need to empirically test the concept developments argued for in this research and the usefulness of researching intellectual capital in social enterprises from a different perspective, that is, from the customer or governance stakeholders.
    Date of Award26 Jun 2014
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRami Djebarni (Supervisor) & Paul Jones (Supervisor)

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