|29th IBIMA Conference
3 - 4 May 2017
Knowledge Capital and Operational Efficiency in the Midst of Crisis. The Case of Italian Listed Companies
Firms’ knowledge assets represent vital resources that contribute, in general, to corporate performance and value creation. At an earlier stage, they are expected to contribute to enhance the operational efficiency of firms they belong to. In this light, under a Resource-Based Theory framework, we intend to find whether and to what extent this expectance is verified also during the recent crisis in Italy. In more detail, we considered 612 firm-year observations relating to the Italian listed companies during three consecutive years - 2010, 2011 and 2012 (when the Italian “spread” reached the peak in terms of highest value) - analyzing overall about 7.000 data/numbers under a Fixed Effects Panel Data Model. The findings are robust: we document a significant positive correlation between operational efficiency and patent assets & (intellectual property) rights, goodwill and trademarks & licenses, while we do not find a correlation with reference to Research & Development Capital (and Advertising investments), also controlling for employees, leverage and time/sector dummies. In the midst of a very turbulent period, most intellectual assets (the former) appear from the efficiency point of view, more reliable than others (the latter) in hampering the profitability drop. Hence, differently from tangible and financial assets, such resources are prospected to be more stable, as well as strategic, levers that make it possible to maintain efficiency or to allow a faster recovery in terms of wasted efficiency. That is, in turbulent times, technology, marketing-related and contractual-legal assets are beneficial to operational efficiency.