Intellectual Capital for the Environment: Past, Present and Future

Proceedings of The 8th International Conference on Opportunities and Challenges in Management, Economics and Accounting

Year: 2021


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Intellectual Capital for the Environment: Past, Present and Future

Giovanna Centorrino and Valeria Naciti



The challenge of natural resource scarcity has prompted several shifts in economic thought. An economic process is not viewed just as the creation of products and services that generate economic well-being by accumulating human and physical capital. Along with technical capital and labor, economic theory recognizes a third type of capital or “economic asset” that is equally important for the operation of an economic system oriented at production, consumption, and, above all, well-being: natural capital.

In this context, companies must rely on intangible resources such as intellectual capital (IC) to alleviate stakeholder pressure on the natural capital. Furthermore, the link between IC and environment has been scientifically proven by researchers. Lopez-Gamero et al. (2011) proposed green IC as “the sum of all knowledge that an organization is able to leverage in the process of conducting environmental management to gain competitive advantage”, intangible assets can be said to be rare and not easily imitated. Generally, the literature has identified three dimensions that encompass the classification of green IC, namely: green human capital; green structural capital; and green relational capital. More recently Yusoff et al. (2019) proposed a new definition of green IC and discovered that it supports companies’ environmental performance. Mention of this new trend thus offers an opportune moment to reflect both on the past, present, and future of IC for the natural environment. Accordingly, this paper provides a bibliometric analysis of the considerable amount of knowledge that has been gathered over time and highlights the challenges that lie ahead for the future.

keywords: bibliometric analysis, environment, intellectual capital, natural capital.