Purpose: This study investigates the relationship between intellectual capital (IC) and sustainability using practitioners’ perspectives and by developing an analysis of comments and practices published in 1651 blog posts in one of the leading sources of sustainability research: CSRwire.com Design/methodology/approach: A total of 1651 posts, containing more than 1.5 million words, published by experts in the field of sustainability are analysed using Leximancer and content analysis. Findings: The results reveal IC and sustainability to be complex topics under active discussion by practitioners, and several links to the IC literature are identified and compared. Our findings focus on the managerial practices applied by leading companies, as discussed by practitioners, that show IC and sustainability influence each other in answering a plurality of demands or logics. Originality/value: The paper is novel because it addresses concerns about the relationship between IC and sustainability by examining messages posted by practitioners, rather than examining company disclosures. This leads to an understanding of the impact of practices rather than the desires motivating practice. Our results support the view that it is time to remove the boundaries of IC research and work toward reconciling the worth of IC to different people in different contexts. We argue that practitioners require scholars to reduce the ambiguity between IC and its expected results. This would open the door to a potentially productive way of understanding IC and the complexity of economic, social, and environmental value. In short, researchers should change their research questions from, “What is IC worth to investors, customers, society, and the environment?” to “Is managing IC a worthwhile endeavour?” Implications for research: First, we identify the need to study the managerial practices proposed by practitioners, rather than their company reports. Second, we propose developing a trading zone for IC researchers and practitioners. Third, we reflect on the role of new communication tools, such as integrated reporting, to connect IC and sustainability. Finally, we conclude that the relationship between IC and sustainability could benefit from a fifth stage of IC research that considers justifications of the worth of IC and sustainability practices.

Practitioners’ views on intellectual capital and sustainability: From a performance-based to a worth-based perspective

Maurizio Massaro
;
Andrea Garlatti;Francesca Dal Mas
2018

Abstract

Purpose: This study investigates the relationship between intellectual capital (IC) and sustainability using practitioners’ perspectives and by developing an analysis of comments and practices published in 1651 blog posts in one of the leading sources of sustainability research: CSRwire.com Design/methodology/approach: A total of 1651 posts, containing more than 1.5 million words, published by experts in the field of sustainability are analysed using Leximancer and content analysis. Findings: The results reveal IC and sustainability to be complex topics under active discussion by practitioners, and several links to the IC literature are identified and compared. Our findings focus on the managerial practices applied by leading companies, as discussed by practitioners, that show IC and sustainability influence each other in answering a plurality of demands or logics. Originality/value: The paper is novel because it addresses concerns about the relationship between IC and sustainability by examining messages posted by practitioners, rather than examining company disclosures. This leads to an understanding of the impact of practices rather than the desires motivating practice. Our results support the view that it is time to remove the boundaries of IC research and work toward reconciling the worth of IC to different people in different contexts. We argue that practitioners require scholars to reduce the ambiguity between IC and its expected results. This would open the door to a potentially productive way of understanding IC and the complexity of economic, social, and environmental value. In short, researchers should change their research questions from, “What is IC worth to investors, customers, society, and the environment?” to “Is managing IC a worthwhile endeavour?” Implications for research: First, we identify the need to study the managerial practices proposed by practitioners, rather than their company reports. Second, we propose developing a trading zone for IC researchers and practitioners. Third, we reflect on the role of new communication tools, such as integrated reporting, to connect IC and sustainability. Finally, we conclude that the relationship between IC and sustainability could benefit from a fifth stage of IC research that considers justifications of the worth of IC and sustainability practices.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11390/1128525
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