You are here

Intellectual capital and relational capital: The role of sustainability in developing corporate reputation

Journal Name:

Publication Year:

Abstract (2. Language): 
Purpose: Intellectual capital offers a potential source of sustainable competitive advantage and is believed to be the source from which economic growth may sprout. However, not many papers analyze the effect of sustainability in the elements involving intellectual capital. This paper seeks to highlight the key role played by corporate sustainability on corporate reputation as one of the key components of relational capital based on the knowledge-based theory. In order to fulfill this objective we consider economic, social and environmental dimensions of corporate sustainability. Design/methodology/approach: Authors develop a structural equation model to test the hypothesis. The study was tested using data collected from a sample of 400 Spanish consumers. Findings: The structural equation model shows that sustainability plays a vital role as antecedent of corporate reputation and relational capital. Findings suggest that economic, social and environmental domains of sustainability have a positive direct effect on corporate reputation. Additionally, this study shows that economic sustainability is considered to be the most important dimension to enhance corporate reputation. Research limitations/implications: Relational capital involves several dimensions which have not been incorporated to this study. Thus, future studies may analyze the role of corporate reputation and sustainability in the formation and development of the different relationships that conform relational capital. Finally, the complicated economic environment currently experienced worldwide may affect the perceptions of Spanish consumers and their ratings. The crosscutting nature of this research inhibits an understanding of the variations in the perceptions of the customers surveyed over time, suggesting that this research could be expanded by a longitudinal study. Secondly, the current study has been conducted with consumers of hotel companies in Spain and it is not clear in how far the findings can be generalized to other industries, stakeholders or countries. Practical implications: This research allows managers to identify the activities in which companies can devote resources to in order to increase firm's reputation. By knowing these specific economic, social and environmental activities, companies can understand, analyze and make decisions in a better way about its sector and about the stakeholders that assess these initiatives. Originality/value: To our knowledge, in any case it has been studied simultaneously the influence of sustainability dimensions on corporate reputation, which is a knowledge gap in the academic literature.



ADAMS, C.A; LARRINAGA-GONZÁLEZ, C. (2007). Engaging with organizations in pursuit of
improved sustainability accounting performance. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability
Journal, 20(3): 333-355.
AHEARNE, M.; JELINEK, R.; RAPP, A. (2005). Moving beyond the direct effect of SFA adoption
on salesperson performance: Training and support as key moderating factors. Industrial
Marketing Management, 34(4): 379-388.
ANDERSON, J.C.; GERBING, D.W. (1988). Structural equation modelling in practice: A review
and recommended two-step approach. Psychological Bulletin, 103(3): 411-423.
BARNEY, J.B. (1986). Strategic factor markets: Expectations, luck, and business strategy.
Management Science, 32(10): 1231-1241.
Intangible Capital –,3926/ic,378
BARNEY, J.B. (2001). Is the resource-based view a useful perspective for strategic research?
Academy of Management Review, 26(1): 41-56.
BEBBIGNTON, J.; LARRINAGA-GONZÁLEZ, C.; MONEVA, J.M. (2008). Corporate social
responsibility and reputation risk management. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability
Journal, 21(3): 337-362.
BECKER-OLSEN, K.L.; CUDMORE, B.A.; HILL, R.P. (2006). The impact of perceived corporate
social responsibility on consumer behavior. Journal of Business Research, 59(1): 46-53.
BENTLER, P.M. (1995). EQS structural equations program manual. Multivariate Software
Encino, CA.
BONTIS, N. (1996). There is a price on your head: managing intellectual capital strategically.
Business Quarterly, 60(4): 40-47.
BRENNAN, N.; CONNELL, B. (2000). Intellectual capital: Current issues and policy implications.
In the 23rd Annual Congress of the European Accounting Association, Munich.
BUENO, E. (2000). Perspectivas sobre Dirección del Conocimiento y Capital Intelectual. I.U.
Euroforum Escorial, Madrid.
CIC (2012). Model for the Measurement and Management of Intellectual Capital: “Intellectus
Model”. Intellectus Documents, 9/10. Centro de Investigación de la Sociedad del
Conocimiento (CIC), Madrid.
CAVES, R.E.; PORTER, M.E. (2007). From entry barriers to mobility barriers: Conjectural
decisions and contrived deterrence to new competition. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 91:
CENSUS BUREAU (2010). Available at:
CHEN, Y.S. (2008). The positive effect of green intellectual capital on competitive advantages
of firms. Journal of Business Ethics, 77: 271-286.
CHEN, Y.S; LAI, S.B.; WEN, C.T. (2006). The influence of green innovation performance on
corporate advantage in Taiwan. Journal of Business Ethics, 67: 331-339.
CHOI, S.; NG, A. (2011). Environmental and economic dimensions of sustainability and price
effects on consumer responses. Journal of Business Ethics, 104: 269-282.
CORNELL, B.; SHAPIRO, A.C. (1987). Corporate stakeholders and corporate finance. Financial
Management, 16: 5-14.
Intangible Capital –,3926/ic,378
DEAN, A.; KRETSCHMER, M. (2007). Can ideas be capital? Factors of production in the
postindustrial economy: A review and critique. Academy of Management Review, 32(2):
DE GROSBOIS, D. (2012). Corporate social responsibility reporting by the global hotel
industry: Commitment, initiatives and performance. International Journal of Hospitality
Management, 31(3): 896-905.
DIERICKX, I.; COOL, K. (1989). Asset stock accumulation and sustainability of competitive
advantage. Management Science, 35(12): 1504-1513.
EDVINSSON, L.; MALONE, M.S. (1997). Intellectual capital. Realizing your company's true
value by findings its hidden brainpower. Harper Collins Publishers: New York.
ERDEM, T.; SWAIT, J. (1998). Brand equity as a signaling phenomenon. Journal of Consumer
Psychology, 7: 131-157.
FIGGE, F.; HAHN, T. (2005). The cost of sustainability capital and the creation of sustainable
value by companies. Journal of Industrial Ecology, 9: 47-58.
FOMBRUN, C.J. (1996). Reputation: Realizing value from the corporate image. Harvard
Business School Press: Harvard.
FOMBRUN, C.J. (2005). Building corporate reputation through CSR initiatives: Evolving
standards. Corporate Reputation Review, 8(1): 7-11.
FOMBRUN, C.J.; GARDBERG, N.A.; BARNETT, M.L. (2000). Opportunity platforms and safety
nets: Corporate citizenship and reputational risk. Business and Society Review, 105(1):
FOMBRUN, C.; SHANLEY, M. (1990). What's in a name? Reputation building and corporate
strategy. Academy of Management Journal, 33(2): 233-258.
FRIEDMAN, A.L.; MILES, S. (2001). Socially responsible investment in corporate social and
environmental reporting in the UK: An exploratory study. British Accounting Review, 33(4):
GOODLAND, R (1995). The concept of environmental sustainability. Review of Ecology
Systems, 26: 1-24.
GRANT, R.M. (1991). The resource-based theory of competitive advantage: Implications for
strategy formulation. California Management Review, 33(3): 114-135.
Intangible Capital –,3926/ic,378
GRANT, R.M. (1996). Toward a knowledge-based theory of the firm. Strategic Management
Journal, 17: 109-122.
GRAY, R.; KOUHY, R.; LAVERS, S. (1995). Corporate social and environmental reporting: A
review of the literature and a longitudinal study of UK disclosure. Accounting, Auditing and
Accountability, 8(2): 47-77.
HAIR, J.F.; BLACK, W.C.; BABIN, B.J.; ANDERSON, R.E. (2010). Multivariate Data Analysis.
Pearson Prentice-Hall: Upper Saddle River.
HANSEN, M.T.; NOHRIA, N.; TIERNEY, T. (1999). What's for managing knowledge?. Harvard
Business Review, 77(2): 106-116.
HAYTON, J.C. (2005). Promoting corporate entrepreneurship through human resource
management practices: A review of empirical research. Human Resource Management
Review, 15: 21-41.
HORMIGA, E.; BATISTA, R.; SÁNCHEZ, A. (2011). The role of intellectual capital in the success
of new ventures. International Entrepreneurship Management Journal, 7(1): 71-92.
KLEIN, J.; DAWAR, N. (2004). Corporate social responsibility and consumers' attributions.
International Journal of Research in Marketing, 21: 203-217.
LEV, B. (2001). Intangibles management, measurement and reporting. The Brookings
Institution: Washington.
LUBIN, D.A.; ESTY, D.C. (2010). The Sustainability Imperative. Harvard Business Review,
88(5): 42-50.
LUCE, R.A.; BARBER, A.E.; HILLMAN, A.J. (2001). Good deeds and misdeeds: A mediated
model of the effect of corporate social performance on organizational attractiveness.
Business Society, 40(4): 397-415.
MAIGNAN, I.; FERRELL, O.C.; HULT, G.T.M. (1999). Corporate citizenship: Cultural antecedents
and business benefits. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 27(4): 455-469.
MARR, B.; ROOS, G. (2005). A Strategy perspective on intellectual capital. In B. Marr (Ed.),
Perspective on intellectual capital. Multidisciplinary insights into management, measurement
and reporting. Elsevier: Boston.
MARTÍN DE CASTRO, G.; LÓPEZ, P.; NAVAS, E. (2004). The role of corporate reputation in
developing relational capital. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 5(4):575 585.
-277-Intangible Capital –,3926/ic,378
MARTÍNEZ, P.; PÉREZ, A.; RODRÍGUEZ DEL BOSQUE, I. (2012). Developing a scale for
measuring corporate social responsibility in tourism. In Marketing to citizens: Going beyond
customers and consumers of the 41st EMAC Annual Conference, Lisbon.
MCKINSEY GLOBAL SURVEY (2010). How companies manage sustainability. Available at:
MILES, M.P.; COVIN, J.G. (2000). Environmental marketing: A source of reputational,
competitive, and financial advantage. Journal of Business Ethics, 23(3): 299-311.
MILGROM, P.; ROBERTS, J. (1986). Relying on information of interested parties. Rand Journal
of Economics, 17: 18-32.
MOHR, L.A.; WEBB, D.J. (2005). The effects of corporate social responsibility and price on
consumer responses. The Journal of Consumer Affairs, 39(1): 121-147.
PIRSCH, J.; GUPTA, S.; GRAU, S.L. (2007). A framework for understanding corporate social
responsibility programs as a continuum: An exploratory study. Journal of Business Ethics,
70(2): 125-140.
POMERING, A.; JOHNSON, L. (2009). Constructing a corporate social responsibility reputation
using corporate image advertising. Australasian Marketing Journal, 17(2): 106-114.
ROOS, G.; BAINBRIDGE, A.; JACOBSEN, K. (2001). Intellectual capital as a strategic tool.
Strategic & Leadership, 29(4): 21-26.
SHETH, J.N.; SETHIA, N.K.; SRINIVAS, S. (2011). Mindful consumption: A customer-centric
approach to sustainability. Journal of the Academy Marketing Science, 39(1): 21-39.
SPENDER, J.C. (1996). Making knowledge the basis of a dynamic theory of the firm. Strategic
Management Journal, 17: 45-62.
SMITH, P.J. (1992). How to present your firm to the world. Journal of Business Strategy,
January-February: 32-36.
SPETH, J.G. (2008). The bridge at the edge of the world. Yale University Press: New Haven.
STEENKAMP, J.B.; VAN TRIJP, H.C.M. (1991). The use of LISREL in validating marketing
constructs. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 8(4): 283-299.
-278-Intangible Capital –,3926/ic,378
STERN, D.A. (1997). The capital theory approach to sustainability: A critical appraisal. Journal
of Economic Issues, 31(1): 145-173.
SULLIVAN, P.H. (1999). Profiting from intellectual capital. Journal of Knowledge Management,
3(2): 132-142.
TRESPALACIOS, J.A.; VÁZQUEZ, R.; BELLO, L. (2005). Investigación de Mercados. Thomson:
URIEL, E.; ALDÁS, J. (2005). Análisis multivariado aplicado. Thomson: Madrid.
WADDOCK, S. (2002). Leading Corporate Citizens. Vision, Values, Value Added. McGraw-Hill:
WCED (World Commission on Environment and Development) (1987). From one earth to one
world: An overview. Oxford University Press: Oxford.
WEIGELT, K.; CAMERER, C. (1988). Reputation and corporate strategy: A review of recent
theory and applications. Strategic Management Journal, 9: 443-454.
WERNERFELT, B. (1988). Umbrella branding as a signal of new product quality. Rand Journal of
Economics, 19: 458-66.

Thank you for copying data from