Purpose– Despite the flourishing literature on intellectual capital (IC), few studies explored its features in the perspective of family firms, and even fewer focussed on small family firms (SFFs). The purpose of this paper is to analyze how managers and senior employees in SFFs perceive the benefits and costs of intellectual capital assets (ICAs) and provides many insights for future researches. Design/methodology/approach– Taking the lead from the constructivist epistemology, this instrumental study describes the implementation of a framework for the assessment of ICAs into four SFFs in order to develop general theoretical principles. Findings– Among the findings, it stands out that most SFFs in the sample especially rely on their internal processes and on their human resources’ knowledge and competences. Furthermore, the authors found much internal disagreement with respect to the expected costs of investing on ICAs, especially within firms operating in more turbulent markets. Research limitations/implications– Being referred to a multiple case study, the results may not be generalized to other organizations. Nevertheless, they are useful to build theory, either by verification of falsification, and to encourage their future testing in empirical papers. Practical implications– The implementation of the framework allows identifying internal disagreement with respect to the ICAs’ costs and benefits and exploring their causes. Furthermore, it suggests which should be the ICAs deserving primary attention in order to have the best impact on value creation. Originality/value– The paper investigates IC in SFFs, thus contributing to fill a remarkable gap in IC literature.
Journal of Intellectual Capital – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 11, 2016