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This paper aims to explore the impact of intellectual capital efficiency (ICE) on firm performance in the context of professional football clubs. In particular, our aim is twofold: (1) to provide measures of ICE specifically tailored to professional football businesses; and (2) to empirically investigate whether some dimensions of ICE, namely, human capital and relational capital efficiency, are positively associated with sporting performance, here used as a proxy for business performance. This paper develops a quantitative analysis of club-level panel data using the statistical technique known as mixed-effects linear regression for longitudinal analysis. The research spans a time period of five years and specifically the sporting seasons from 2007/2008 up to 2011/2012. The empirical findings of this study provide tentative evidence that ICE, especially as far as relational capital is concerned, is positively associated with on-pitch performance of professional football businesses. On the counterpart, results for the impact of human capital efficiency (HCE) do not consistently come out with the (positive) expected signs. More specifically, our findings suggest that relational capital efficiency, meaning the ability to develop and nurture positive business relationship with relevant external stakeholders, is a significant consideration for football club managers; on the other, they might shed light on the actual business model of professional football clubs that, in our analysis, does not appear consistent with the long-held hypothesis of winning maximization. The main limitation of this study lies in the fact that our indicators do not fully capture all relevant dimensions of the intellectual capital (IC) construct.


intellectual capital efficiency (ICE), firm performance, professional football clubs

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