Designing Causal Maps Adopting an Intellectual Capital Perspective: A Case Study Analysis

Federica De Santis


Causal maps are a useful tool by which managers can understand what the key resources in their organization are and how these resources contribute to the value creation process. The aim of this paper is to understand, from an empirical perspective, if, how and why a causal map can be designed grounding on the Intellectual Capital (IC) studies. To achieve this aim a case study has been examined to reply to our research questions.
The contribution of this paper to the management accounting literature is twofold. First it suggests a method to improve causal maps by making visible two aspects, time and interconnections, that traditionally overlooked (Marr et al., 2004 Nørreklit, 2000). Second, it systematizes and extends the literature on how to account for time and on the relative importance of the temporal dimension in developing effective strategies.
The main findings of the research can be summed up as follows. From a methodological point of view, the use of multi-method approach in designing a casual map offers the opportunity to take into considerations the intensity of the relations and the time lag between activities and effects. Adopting an IC perspective, it emerges that the properties of IC (i.e. connectivity, dynamicity and specificity) have a great impact on the map and the adoption of an IC perspective in designing casual maps may be useful to enrich this management tool and to better consider the specific properties of IC.

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