Developing human capital in today's entrepreneurs: a practitioner perspective

Alan Murray, Rosa Palladino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
203 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose - Human capital is one of the three dimensions of intellectual capital and this paper examines the range of human capitals needed by the modern entrepreneur and the nature of the barriers to effectively supporting the development of these capitals.

Design/methodology/approach - A review of entrepreneurship literature and a qualitative investigation conducted on a sample of 10 experienced enterprise support practitioners representing a cross section of leading enterprise agencies in Scotland. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed using thematic analysis.

Findings - From the interviews 21 key human capitals were identified and clear agreement between the literature and practice was noted around what critical human capitals, also referred to in this paper as entrepreneurial capitals, are needed by today’s entrepreneurs. The study shows that the enterprise support network in Scotland is clearly well developed and ideally placed to support the development of human capital in the entrepreneur. However the study also identifies that barriers exist to the delivery of effective support for the development of human capital in the entrepreneur around focus, process and resource.

Research limitations - The work is limited as the qualitative approach focuses on a specific social field and thus the findings cannot immediately be generalised to other domains. Also this paper focuses on a single component of intellectual capital and it is recognised that human capital, social capital and organizational capital are inextricably linked in the firm. These limitations can be addressed with future research.

Practical implications - This research investigates the close relationship between a key component of intellectual capital (human capital) and the field of entrepreneurship. The study provides collaborative evidence of 21 specific human capitals which a cohort of experienced enterprise support practitioners consider to be most influential for successful entrepreneurship and the key challenges to supporting development of these capitals. Identifying and validating the key human capitals needed to run a successful business and targeting the development of these allows the practitioner to direct their support interventions more effectively in order to raise productivity and improve success rates for their clients.

Social implications - The value the long term benefits of even a marginal increase in the efficiency of enterprise support to business through targeted entrepreneurial learning cannot be overstated.

Value/Originality - There is a lack of empirical data linking the development of human capital and entrepreneurship. This work has resonance for providers of enterprise support seeking to remain relevant to the entrepreneurial development needs of the entrepreneur.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Intellectual Capital
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jul 2020


  • entrepreneurship
  • enterprise support
  • intellectual capital
  • human capital
  • innovation
  • performance
  • business


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