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Intellectual Capital, Firms' Innovation Growth and Emerging Value Spaces

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Intellectual Capital

Guest Editors: 

Ahmed Bounfour, Université Paris-Sud
Hannu Piekkola, University of Vaasa
Carter Bloch, Aahrus University


Over the past fifteen years, intangibles have emerged as an important source of growth and innovation.  Several national and international institutions have emphasized their importance: the OECD, the European Commission, the World Bank, METI in Japan, and BNDES in Brazil, among others (Bounfour and Miyagawa, 2015). According to the OECD (OECD, 2013), knowledge-based capital account for 5 to 11% of GDP in most member countries, and play a greater role in productivity growth than tangible capital. At the firm level, the resource-based view (Barney, 1991; Wernerfelt, 1984) as well as the dynamic capabilities approach (Bounfour, 2003, Teece et al., 1997, Teece, 2015) highlight the heterogeneity of firms and the critical role of intangible assets. Intellectual capital of nations and continents has been developed recently as a subject for research and action (Bounfour, 2008, 2018). More generally, Intellectual capital literature need to be extended beyond the sphere of firms and individual organisations (Dumay, 2013).

However, despite this recognition, important analytical issues remain to be addressed, notably modelling the contribution of intangibles to innovation. Various additional questions have also emerged related to new forms of organizations – especially platforms, the critical role of data as intangible assets, and the way firms can take advantage of such ‘new’ assets in the design of their business models.  The lack of data availability at the firm level is a key barrier to further analysis of the role of intangibles.

The Special Issue’s objective:

The main objective of this Special Issue is to provide new insights into the measurement of intellectual capital and its contribution to innovation growth, while at the same time considering their importance in new, emerging innovation spaces.  The specific sub-objectives to be achieved are:

  • Proposing new approaches for the measurement of intellectual capital;
  • Providing analytical tools to examine the link between investments in intellectual capital and innovation performance;
  • More globally, analyzing how intellectual capital  can contribute to explaining the productivity puzzle (secular stagnation);
  • Analyzing specific forms of organizations (global value chains, platforms), and delineating the ways in which they create value and leverage intangible assets;
  • Analyzing the role of digitization in innovation, especially around data such as digital assets;
  • Understanding how knowledge created by intellectual capital can spillover across firms, industries and countries

The Special Issue’s scope, including potential themes to be addressed:

The following is an indicative, though not exhaustive, list of possible areas for submissions:

  • The issue of measurement and valuation

Work on the measurement of intellectual capital has focused on broadening the conceptualization of what constitutes a capital investment, developing measures of intangibles at the macro level and, more recently, at the micro level for individual firms.  In performance-based valuation, output elasticities of these intangible assets are compared to their output shares to revise factor multipliers (Piekkola, 2016). Other attempts to estimate intangible assets are Cummins (2005) and Lev and Radhakrishnan (2005). The Corrado et al. (2005, 2009) and the Barnes and McClure (2009) methods can also be used in attempts to estimate the effects of intangibles on economic growth.

The current treatment of intangibles is partial and uncoordinated. There is a need for new methodologies and statistics with micro foundations, and the harmonisation of approaches across countries.

  • Intellectual capital, value chains and innovation

The value chain runs from production, research and development (R&D) to prototyping, demonstration, assembling parts (with their own value chains), commercialisation and deployment: it is at the core of micro-level analyses. Recent research has proposed a value chain approach to analyse the development of new products and services and, thereby, to boost growth. Value chains function on different scales. Global chains can be distributed across different locations, with different degrees of control. Many emerging economies have developed capabilities in knowledge-intensive and high-value activities, which play a central role for productivity growth in EU and OECD countries

  • Intellectual capital components and firm performance: delineating their complementarities 

Building on the work of Topkis (1978) and Aoki (1984), Milgrom and Roberts (1995) and their colleagues paved the way for a new approach to considering intangibles within a firm, arguing that they should be considered jointly rather than separately. Specifically, they claim that intangibles are heterogeneous and combinatory in nature and should be analyzed from this perspective (Athey and Roberts, 2001; Milgrom and Roberts, 1995; Roberts, 2004). Understanding the complementarities between intellectual capital components, for example by defining a set of bundles that are most relevant for firm performance and innovation, is one major task that researchers need to address.

  • Data, platforms and innovation growth

Over the past five years, platforms have emerged as a key organizational concept, notably due to the ubiquity of digital technologies. Specific themes can be considered for the present call: the analysis of the key economic stakes relating to the platform phenomenon, a review of existing analytical approaches, and the proposal of empirical approaches regarding how platforms leverage their intangibles.

  • Intellectual capital and emerging value spaces

The way value is created will depend on the way firms organize their activities in the long term. Taking a long-term perspective, the present call welcomes papers that develop foresight approaches to innovation and value spaces (markets, platforms, communities, networks) and the definition/simulation of the most suitable instruments.

Although the scope of the Special Issue is broad, we have identified the following questions as being of interest; however, this list is non-exhaustive:

  • How do frontier firms valorize their intellectual capital?
  • How can we measure intellectual capital in global value chains?
  • How do platforms manage their intellectual capital for innovation?
  • How should future value spaces be designed, and what is specific role of intellectual capital?
  • How to measure risk (including cyber-risk) for intellectual capital?
  • To what extent does the measurement of intellectual capitals offer an insight into the secular stagnation issue?
  • How can we articulate between transaction and non-transactional (those not subject to monetary transactions) intangibles?

Paper Development Workshop

To encourage potential contributions to the Special Issue, the Editors will host a Paper Development Workshop at the 15th edition of the World Conference on Intellectual Capital for Communities (IC15), at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, on 11 & 12 July 2019

Submission Procedure:

Submissions to this special issue must be made through the ScholarOne submission system here:

Visit the author guidelines for the journal for full details:

Ensure that you select this special issue (Intellectual Capital, Firms' Innovation Growth and Emerging Value Spaces) from the relevant drop down menu on page four of the submission process.

Submission Deadlines:
Extended abstract: June 1st, 2019
Development workshop: July 11/12, 2019
Final paper: July 30, 2019

Review cycles will be rapid with the goal of publishing the issue “early 2020.”
Aoki, M. (1984). The co-operative game theory of the firm. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Athey, S., & Roberts, M. (2001). ‘Organizational design: Decision rights and incentive contracts’. American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings, 91, 200–205.
Barney, J. (1991). ‘Firm resources and sustainable competitive advantage’. Journal of Management, 17, 99–120.
Barnes, Paula and McClure, Andrew (2009), 'Investments in intangible assets and Australia’s productivity growth', Productivity Commission Staff Working Paper (Canberra).
Bounfour.A, (2018) "Africa: the next frontier for intellectual capital?", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 19 Issue: 3, pp.474-479,
Bounfour.A, (2008) "Guest editorial", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 9 Issue: 2,
Bounfour.A. (2003), "The IC‐dVAL approach", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 4 Issue: 3, pp.396-413,
Bounfour.A. Miyagawa .T. (Eds). Intangibles, Market Failure and Innovation Growth. Heidelberg: Springer.
Chen, W, R. Gouma, B. Los and M. Timmer (2017), ‘Measuring Income to Intangibles in Goods Production: A Global Value Chain Approach’, WIPO Economic Research Paper, N°36, Geneva, WIPO. 5
Corrado, C., Hulten, C., and D. Sichel (2005), 'Measuring capital and technology: an expanded framework', in Carol Corrado, John Haltiwanger, and Dan Sichel (eds.), Measuring capital in the new economy (University of Chicago Press), 11-46.
--- (2009), 'Intangible capital and US economic growth', Review of income and wealth, 55 (3), 661-85.
Corrado, C. et al. (2014), 'Intangibles and industry productivity growth: Evidence from the EU', Manuscript available at www. intan-invest. net.
Cummins, J. G (2005), 'A new approach to the valuation of intangible capital', Measuring capital in the new economy (University of Chicago Press), 47-72.
Dumay, J. (2013) "The third stage of IC: towards a new IC future and beyond", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 14 Issue: 1, pp.5-9,
Lev, B. , S. Radhakrishnan, (2005), 'The valuation of organization capital', Measuring capital in the new economy (University of Chicago Press), 73-110.
Milgrom, P., & Roberts, J. (1995). ‘Complementarities and fit: Strategy, structure and organizational change in manufacturing’. Journal of Accounting and Economics, 19(2–3), 179–208.
Nakamura, L. (2001). What is the U.S. gross investment in intangibles? (At least) one trillion
dollars a year! (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Working Paper 01-15). 358
OECD. (2013, May). New sources of growth: Knowledge-based capital. 359
Roberts, J. (2004). The modern firm: Organizational design for performance and growth. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 361
Piekkola, H. (2016), 'Intangible Investment and Market Valuation', Review of Income and Wealth, 62 (1), 28-51.
Teece, D. J. (2015). ‘Intangible Assets and a Theory of Heterogeneous Firms’, in Bounfour A., Miyagawa, T. (2015), Intangibles, Market Failure and Innovation Growth. Heidelberg, Springer, pp. 217-240.
Teece, D. J., Pisano, G., & Shuen, A. (1997). Dynamic capabilities and strategic management. Strategic Management Journal, 18(7), 509–533.
Topkis, D. M. (1978). ‘Minimizing submodular function on a lattice’. Operations Research, 26(2),305–321.
Wernerfelt, B. (1984). ‘A resource-based view of the firm’. Strategic Management Journal, 5(2),171–181

Editors’ Profiles:

Ahmed Bounfour, Professor, Holder of the European Chair on Intangibles, full professor of management, University Paris-Sud, Head of the RITM Networks and Innovation Group at University Paris-Sud and, more recently, a visiting researcher on Innovation and Digital platforms at the OECD. He has led several research studies on intangibles/intellectual capital and their contribution to innovation performance, at the European level as well as internationally.

Hannu Piekkola, Professor, full professor of economics, University of Vaasa, Finland. Extensive international co-operation in the field of intangible capital and innovation. Coordinator of the EU FP7 project INNODRIVE 2008–2011 and coordinator of GLOBALINTO 2019–2022. He has published several articles on intangibles with microdata such as linked employer–employee data.

Carter Bloch is Professor and Center Director at the Danish Centre for Studies in Research and Research Policy (CFA). He has led a number of national and international projects in the field of innovation measurement, knowledge spillovers, and productivity and innovation analysis. He was also member of a panel at the US National Academies of Sciences on “Developing Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators for the Future”.

Ahmed Bounfour: [email protected]