Knowledge Assets: Identification and Integration

  • Juani Swart
  • Cliff Bowman
  • Kerrie Howard


Literature focused on knowledge assets often treats the individual components, such as human, social and organisational capital, separately. Although useful, this does not add to our understanding of how value is generated through the integration of various knowledge assets. This issue is at the heart of this chapter. We review the literature on the various forms of capital that generate value. We do so from a viewpoint that moves beyond the linear or normative perspective of how each individual form of capital can be leveraged for success. That is to say, we view knowledge and knowledge assets, such as human, social and organisational capital, as collectively constructed, a social good and integrated. As such, these assets do not generate value in isolation.


Knowledge assets Capital Value generation Integration 


  1. Adler, P. S., & Kwon, S. W. (2002). Social capital: Prospects for a new concept. Academy of Management Review, 27(1), 17–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ambrosini, V., & Bowman, C. (2001). Tacit knowledge: Some suggestions for operationalization. Journal of Management Studies, 38(6), 811–829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barney, J. (1991). Firm resources and sustained competitive advantage. Journal of Management, 17, 99–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Becker, G. (1964). Human capital. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bontis, N. (1998). Intellectual capital: An exploratory study that develops measures and models. Management Decision, 36(2), 63–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  7. Bouty, I. (2000). Interpersonal and interaction influences on informal resource exchanges between R&D researchers across organisational boundaries. Academy of Management Journal, 43(1), 50–65.Google Scholar
  8. Bowman, C., & Ambrosini, V. (2000). Value creation versus value capture: Towards a coherent definition of value in strategy. British Journal of Management, 11, 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowman, C., & Swart, J. (2007). Whose human capital? The role of embedded capital in the capture of value. Journal of Management Studies, 44(4), 488–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brown, T. F. (2003). Theoretical perspectives on social capital. Available from:*tombrow/Econson/soccap.htm
  11. Burt, G. (1992). Structural holes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chattopadhyay, S., & Choudhury, P. (2017). Sink or swim: The role of workplace context in shaping career advancement and human-capital development. Organization Science, 28(2), 211–227.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Chillemi, O., & Gui, B. (2001). Team human capital and worker mobility. Journal of Labor Economics, 15(4), 567–585.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Coff, R. W. (1999). When competitive advantage doesn’t lead to performance: The resource-based view and stakeholder bargaining power. Organization Science, 10, 119–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Coleman, J. S. (1988). Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, S94–S120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Coleman, J. S. (1990). Foundations of social theory. Cambridge: HUP.Google Scholar
  17. Crossan, M. M., Lane, H. W., White, R. E., & Djurfeldt, L. (1995). Organizational learning: Dimensions for a theory. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 3(4), 337–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Crossan, M. M., Lane, H. W., & White, R. E. (1999). An organizational learning framework: From intuition to institution. Academy of Management Review, 24(3), 522–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Davenport, T. (1999). Human capital. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  20. Delery, J., & Roumpi, D. (2017). Strategic human resource management, human capital and competitive advantage: Is the field going in circles? Human Resource Management Journal.
  21. Douglas, F., & Tomasz, O. (2014). Firm-specific human capital, organizational incentives, and agency costs: Evidence from retail banking. Strategic Management Journal, 35(9), 1279–1301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Fonti, F., & Maoret, M. (2016). The direct and indirect effects of core and peripheral social capital on organizational performance. Strategic Management Journal, 37, 1765–1786.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fu, N., Flood, P. C., & Morris, T. (2016). Organizational ambidexterity and professional firm performance: The moderating role of organizational capital. Journal of the Professions and Organizations, 3, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fukuyama, F. (1995). Trust: The social virtues and the creation of prosperity. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  25. Gimeno, J., Folta, T. B., Cooper, A. C., & Woo, C. Y. (1997). Survival of the fittest? Entrepreneurial human capital and the persistence of underperforming firms. Administrative Science Quarterly, 42, 750–783.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Granovetter, M. (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78, 1360–1380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Granovetter, M. (1985). Economic action and social structure: The problem of Embeddedness. American Journal of Sociology, 91(3), 481–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Groysberg, B. (2010). Chasing stars: The myth of talent and the portability of performance. Princeton: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Groysberg, B., & Lee, L. (2009). Hiring stars and their colleagues: Exploration and exploitation in professional service firms. Organization Science, 20, 740–758.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Groysberg, B., Lee, L., & Nanda, A. (2008). Can they take it with them? The portability of star knowledge workers’ performance. Management Science, 54, 1213–1230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Harris, A., Pattie, M. W., & McMahan, G. C. (2015). Advancement along a career path: The influence of human capital and performance. Human Resource Management Journal, 25(1), 102–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Huckman, R. S., & Pisano, G. P. (2006). The firm specificity of individual performance: Evidence from cardiac surgery. Management Science, 52, 473–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Inkpen, A. C., & Tsang, E. W. K. (2005). Social capital, networks, and knowledge transfer. Academy of Management Review, 30, 146–165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Inkpen, A. C., & Tsang, E. W. K. (2016). Reflections on the 2015 decade award – social capital, networks, and knowledge transfer: An emergent stream of research. Academy of Management Review, 41(4), 573–588.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kang, S., & Snell, S. (2009). Intellectual capital architectures and ambidextrous learning: A framework for human resource management. Journal of Management Studies, 46(1), 65–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kang, S., Swart, J., & Snell, S. (2012). Options-based HRM, Intellectual capital and exploratory and exploitive learning in law firm’s practice groups. Human Resource Management, 51(4), 461–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Klein, H. J., & Park, H. M. (2016). Chapter  2. Commitment as a unidimensional construct. In Handbook of employee commitment. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.Google Scholar
  38. Kogut, B. U., & Zander, U. (1996). What firms do? Coordination, identity and learning. Organization Science, 7, 502–518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kwon, S. W., & Adler, P. S. (2014). Social capital: Maturation of a field of research. Academy of Management Review, 39(4), 412–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Leana, C. R., & van Buren, H. J. (1999). Organizational social capital and employment practices. Academy of Management Review, 24(3), 538–555.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Lepak, D., & Snell, S. A. (1999). The human resource architecture: Toward a theory of human capital allocation and development. Academy of Management Review, 24(1), 31–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Malaith, G. J., & Postlewaite, A. (1990). Workers versus firms: Bargaining over a firm’s value. Review of Economic Studies, 57, 369–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Marsden, P. V., & Campbell, E. K. (1984). Measuring tie strength. Social Forces, 63, 482–501.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Marshall, A. (1961). Principles of economics (Two volumes). London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  45. Marx, K. (1970). Capital (Vol. 1). London: Lawrence and Wishart.Google Scholar
  46. Nahapiet, J., & Ghoshal, S. (1998). Social capital, intellectual capital and the organization advantage. Academy of Management Review, 23(2), 242–266.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nelson, R. R., & Winter, S. G. (1982). An evolutionary theory of economic change. Cambridge: Belknap Press/Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Olroyd, J., & Morris, S. (2012). Catching falling stars: A human resource response to social capital’s detrimental effect of information overload on star employees. Academy of Management Review, 37(3), 396–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Orlikowski, W. J. (2002). Knowing in practice: Enacting a collective capability in distributed organizing. Organization Science, 13(3), 249–273.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pennings, J. M., Lee, K., & van Witteloostuijn, A. (1998). Human capital, social capital and firm dissolution. Academy of Management Journal, 41(4), 425–440.Google Scholar
  51. Polanyi, M. (1966). The tacit dimension. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  52. Purcell, J., Kinnie, N., Hurchinson, S., Rayton, B., & Swart, J. (2004) Vision and values: The big idea. London: CIPD. Executive brief.Google Scholar
  53. Putnam, R. D. (1993). Making democracy work. Civic traditions on modern Italy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Raffiee, J., & Coff, R. (2016). Micro-foundations of firm-specific human capital: When do employees perceive their skills to be firm-specific? Academy of Management Journal, 59(3), 766–790.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Reagans, R., & Zuckerman, E. W. (2001). Networks, diversity and productivity: The social capital of corporate R&D teams. Organization Science, 12(4), 502–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Robinson, L. J., Schmid, A. A., & Siles, M. E. (2002). Is social capital really capital? Review of Social Economy, 60(1), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Sherer, P. D. (1995). Leveraging human assets in law firms: Human capital structures and organizational capabilities. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 48(4), 671–691.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Shunen, M., & Paasivaara, L. (2011). Shared human capital in project management: A systematic review of the literature. Project Management Journal, 42(2), 4–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Snell, S. A., Youndt, M. A., & Wright, P. M. (1996). Establishing framework for research in strategic human resource management: Merging resource theory and organisational learning. In G. R. Ferris (Ed.), Research in personnel and human resource management (pp. 61–90). Greenwich: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  60. Swart, J. (2006). Intellectual capital: Disentangling an enigmatic concept. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 7(2), 136–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Swart, J., & Kinnie, N. (2010). Organisational learning, knowledge assets and HR practices in professional service firms. Human Resource Management Journal, 20(1), 64–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Swart, J., & Kinnie, N. (2013). Managing multi-dimensional knowledge assets: HR configurations in professional service firms. Human Resource Management Journal, 23(2), 160–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Swart, J., Kinnie, N., & Purcell, J. (2003). People and performance in knowledge intensive firms. London: CIPD.Google Scholar
  64. Tallman, S., Jenkins, M., Henry, N., & Pinch, S. (2004). Knowledge, clusters, and competitive advantage. Academy of Management Review, 29(2), 258–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Teachman, J. D., Paasch, K., & Carver, K. (1997). Social capital and the generation of human capital. Social Forces, 75(4), 1343–1359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Tsoukas, H. (1996). The firm as a distributed knowledge system: A constructionist approach. Strategic Management Journal, 17, 11–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Turner, N., Swart, J., Maylor, H., & Antonacopoulou, E. (2016). Making it happen: How managerial actions enable project-based ambidexterity. Management Learning, 47(2), 199–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Uzzi, B. (1996). The sources and consequences of embeddedness for economic performance of organisations: The network effect. American Sociological Review, 64, 674–698.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Veblen, T. (1924). The theory of the leisure class: An economic study of institutions. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  70. Walker, G., Kogut, B., & Shan, W. (1997). Social capital, structural holes and the formation of an industry network. Organization Science, 8(2), 109–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Winter, S. G. (1987). Knowledge and competence as strategic assets. In D. J. Teece (Ed.), The competitive challenge: Strategies for industrial innovation and renewal (pp. 159–184). Cambridge: Ballinger.Google Scholar
  72. Wright, P., & McMahan, C. (2011). Exploring human capital: Putting ‘human’ back into strategic human resource management. Human Resource Management Journal, 21(2), 93–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Xiang, C., Lu, Y., & Gupta, S. (2013). Knowledge sharing in information system development teams: Examining the impact of shared mental model from a social capital theory perspective. Behaviour & Information Technology, 32(10), 1024–1040.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Youndt, M. A., Subramaniam, M., & Snell, S. (2004). Intellectual capital profiles: An examination of investment and returns. Journal of Management Studies, 41, 335–361.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Zucker, L. G., Darby, M. R., & Brewer, M. B. (2001). Intellectual human capital and the birth of U.S. biotechnology enterprises. The American Economic Review, 88(1), 290–306.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Juani Swart
    • 1
  • Cliff Bowman
    • 2
  • Kerrie Howard
    • 1
  1. 1.School of ManagementUniversity of BathBathUK
  2. 2.Cranfield School of ManagementCranfield UniversityCranfieldUK

Personalised recommendations