The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management publishes original articles on topics relevant to studying, implementing, measuring and managing knowledge management and intellectual capital.

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Journal Article

Building Intellectual Capital for Sustainable Development: Combining Local Wisdom and Advanced Knowledge  pp159-169

Roland Bardy, Arthur Rubens, Paul Eberle

© Oct 2017 Volume 15 Issue 3, Linking Theory and Practice in Intellectual Capital, Editor: Dr. Ilídio Tomás Lopes and Dr. Rogério Marques Serrasqueiro, pp145 - 212

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When intellectual capital is built “from the scratch” in an effort to move a society’s situation to a sustainable status, there is often a need for a catalyst that triggers the endeavor. The “trigger”, in the case that is reported in this paper, was the installation of a new college in a rural community in Northern Ghana where heretofore, no comprehensive tertiary education had been available. The college established an outreach program which was destined to provide the community with increased opportunities for improving the overall social and economic well‑being. This creates an outer circle of engagement through accessing government officials, local businesses, community councils, health workers, traditional leaders (tribal chiefs), religious leaders and heads of NGOs on topics like labor relations, conflict resolution, sustainability management, social responsibility, cultural diversity, and social inclusiveness. At the onset, the members of the community contributed their traditional views on these topics and how this would combine with knowledge brought in through the new college. Since rural communities in Africa have a very intimate and intense relation to nature, good hands‑on skills and an abundance of indigenous wisdom, it was felt that this combination would result in a rich body of knowledge and competencies. Ultimately, a valuable base would be developed from this knowledge for an inventory of intellectual capital that can be transferred to generations of descendants. At the heart of this endeavor was the Center for Cross Cultural Ethics and Sustainable Development, an institution created by the college, to move these efforts forward. There are two perspectives which make this case relevant for new developments in knowledge management: One is the issue of what has been called the “fourth mission” of educational institutions (Trencher et al. 2013), moving the institutions to co‑creating sustainability by collaborating with government, industry and civil society to advance sustainable transformation in their environment. The other is that when two bodies of knowledge co‑exist, the question arises how this co‑existence should be approached. This case embeds a variety of systems‑thinking constructs. Which would be the best way to combine indigenous wisdom with new knowledge brought in by the college’s academicians and outside practitioners? How can a balance be coalesced between community needs that must often be satisfied short‑term and needs for which long‑term solutions are required? How can self‑organization and relationality be conjoined? How can intellectual capital from both the traditional and the newly acquired skills and knowledge be generated in the community? The paper reflects on both the knowledge management and the systems‑thinking interpretations of the case. community) and processes self‑reference and other‑reference.


Keywords: Ghana, Sustainable Development, Fourth Mission, Social Well-Being, Indigenous Wisdom, Systemic Co-Creation, Community Intellectual Capital, Luhmannian Framework.


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Journal Issue

Volume 15 Issue 3, Linking Theory and Practice in Intellectual Capital / Oct 2017  pp145‑212

Editor: Dr. Ilídio Tomás Lopes, Dr. Rogério Marques Serrasqueiro

View Contents Download PDF (free)



Keywords: value co-creation, intellectual capital, marketing, factor analysis, exploratory empirical analysis, consumer behaviour, Ghana, Sustainable Development, Fourth Mission, Social Well-Being, Indigenous Wisdom, Systemic Co-Creation, Community Intellectual Capital, Luhmannian Framework, Business performance, Intellectual capital, Human capital, Strategic Intent, Chief Knowledge Officers, strategic knowledge management, Intellectual Capital, reporting, measurements, actors, project sponsor, project leader, field study, Italy, intangibles, HRM, HR function, project-oriented organization, HR practitioners, HR business partner, Psychological capital, authentic leadership, trust, work well-being, efficacy, optimism, hope, resilience & Egyptian public organizations


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