The Evolution of Intellectual Capital Research – a Bibliometric Analysis of Highly-cited Papers

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Mihailo Paunović
Dijana Štrbac
Lazar Živković


This study presents and evaluates the development of research on intellectual capital (IC) using bibliometric analysis of highly cited research papers. It also uses social network analysis (SNA) to decipher the complex patterns of collaboration, influence, and knowledge diffusion in the field of IC research. Data for the SNA were extracted from the top 1% of highly cited papers identified through bibliometric analysis. The extracted data were processed using BibExcel, which allowed for the extraction of important metadata, statistical calculations, and an in-depth examination of the selected documents. Pajek, a network analysis tool, was used to visualize and understand the complex network of these influential articles. Our analysis shows the evolution of intellectual capital from a niche interest in the mid-20th century to a dynamically growing field of study. The number of publications increased from double digits in the early 1990s to over a hundred publications per year in the early 2000s. From the mid-2000s to the present, the field experienced almost exponential growth, peaking in 2022 with 796 publications. Analysis of the 103 most cited papers in intellectual capital identified a total of 212 authors. Remarkably, 92% of these authors contributed to only one publication each. The co-authorship analysis unveils a decentralized structure characterized by several smaller research clusters embedded within the broader network. The results of this study enhance our comprehension of intellectual capital research by identifying influential authors, highly cited journals, and co-publication networks, thereby providing valuable insights into the field's dynamics.

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