Is it time to jump off the Intellectual Capital bandwagon for SMEs?

Chiara Demartini - Full Professor Department of Economics and Management. University of Pavia, Italy, Valentina Beretta - Assistant Professor Department of Economics and Management, University of Pavia, Italy


In today’s knowledge-based society, intangibles are providing crucial resources for the firm’s survival and growth. In particular, intellectual capital (IC) should be properly managed to increase economic value. However, the conceptualization of this construct is mainly grounded on the features of large firms even if the relevance of SMEs in the economy at international level is growing. To answer to the call for more IC research in SMEs, this study adopts a structured literature review to understand how the concept of IC is conceived in SMEs, by analysing IC components that mainly impact SMEs’ performance. Results show that a core and diversified set of IC dimensions is supporting different areas of performance. IC in SMEs is conceived of as a wider concept compared to existing frameworks. Results show that intangibles play a fundamental role in SMEs, and, therefore, their proper measurement and management becomes of vital importance for SMEs. Results from this study enrich the literature on the conceptualization of IC by focusing on a specific typology of firm, which deserves specific research effort, it extends the knowledge of IC in practice, by focusing on the items of IC with a relevant role in affecting SMEs performance and it provides support to the role of IC management in SMEs.


intangible assets, intellectual capital, smes, structured literature review, performance

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Registered by the Cancelleria del Tribunale di Pavia N. 685/2007 R.S.P. – electronic ISSN 2038-5498


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