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Journal cover: Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting

Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting

ISSN: 1401-338X
This journal ceased publication in 2012

Online from: 1996

Subject Area: Accounting and Finance

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The emergent properties of intellectual capital: a conceptual offering


Document Information:
Title:The emergent properties of intellectual capital: a conceptual offering
Author(s):Christian Nielsen, (Department of Business Studies, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark), Henrik Dane-Nielsen, (Department of Business Studies, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark)
Citation:Christian Nielsen, Henrik Dane-Nielsen, (2010) "The emergent properties of intellectual capital: a conceptual offering", Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, Vol. 14 Iss: 1, pp.6 - 27
Keywords:Biology, Intellectual capital, Sociology
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/14013381011039771 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Abstract:

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to illustrate how the emergent properties perspective from the field of biology can be applied to the field of intellectual capital. Much attention has in recent years been directed towards problems of accounting for intellectual capital and how the value of intellectual capital at one level of an organization influences the value of intellectual capital at higher or lower levels of the organization.

Design/methodology/approach – Through a literature review an emergent properties framework was developed. This framework was applied to an intellectual capital perspective with empirical illustrations.

Findings – In this paper, it is argued that the inherent difficulties of understanding the interdependencies of intellectual capital across different levels of an organization can be traced to a lack of understanding of the differences between synergetic effects, causal relationships and emergent properties. The paper illustrates through examples how an emergent properties perspective can be mobilized in relation to the field of intellectual capital.

Research limitations/implications – The paper is conceptual in nature and reports the theoretical propositions from an ongoing empirical project. The lack of empirical content limits the strength of the conclusions.

Originality/value – The paper is a step in the direction of enhancing the understanding of the different levels of intellectual capital by applying the biological perspective of emergent properties. Although this perspective in itself may not constitute a general testable theory of intellectual capital, it is the hope, at least, that it may provoke thought, development and further research in this field.



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