Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to tackle the problem of societal knowledge management from the perspective of critical management research. The focus is on national intellectual capital analysis as part of societal knowledge management. First, the aim is to identify the dominant discourse that governs the discussion around national intellectual capital and its measurement. Second, the aim is to explore the prospects for an alternative conceptualisation and to propose a heuristic tool through which it is possible to approach national intellectual capital and its measurement in a critical, informed and analytic way.
Design/methodology/approach – The study takes a critical standpoint and leans loosely on the methodology of critical discourse analysis by Norman Fairclough.
Findings – The paper argues for the emancipation of national intellectual capital from the orthodoxy that relates it to economic growth, quantitative measurement, objectivity and universality towards a discourse that regards the value of national intellectual capital and its analysis more broadly, recognising the contextual and subjective nature of national intellectual capital.
Research limitations/implications – The conceptual analysis provides a basis for further empirical assessment of national intellectual capital. Societal implications – The paper offers a critical conceptual lens through which to approach societal knowledge management. The constructed heuristic tool for analysing national intellectual capital can serve as a basis for strategic knowledge-based development.
Originality/value – The paper offers a critical reflection of intellectual capital on the national/societal level and a starting point for critical societal knowledge management.
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