Thinking Critically about Intellectual Liabilities: A Practice-Based Perspective

  •  Marco Giuliani    


The aim of this study is to understand ILs for a practice-based perspective. This research will try to answer the following research questions: How do companies conceive ILs? How do they measure ILs? and how do they manage ILs? Alvesson and Deetz’s (2000) critical management research framework was selected for the examination. The study is based on a field study that has involved large Italian companies.

The main findings are the following. First, there is a relevant gap between theory and practice as most of the ideas about ILs seem to have not entered into organizations. Second, the use of expressions like “intangible risk” appear to be more effective and understandable than “intellectual liabilities. as the word “intangibles” is more understandable than “intellectual capital”. Third, companies tend to focus on human capital risks, customer risks, and IP risks as they are perceived as the most relevant ones. Fourth, ILs’ measurements seem to be stand alone, ambiguous, simple and designed (or co-designed) by their direct users. Fifth, the management of ILs appear to be rather informal and fragmented.

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