Human Capital-Intensive Firms and Symbolic Value Creation

  • Cécile CEZANNE
  • Laurence SAGLIETTO
Keywords: Boundaries of the Firm, Human Capital-Intensive Firms, Symbolic Value, Value Creation


The aim of this paper is to study the process of symbolic value creation of human capital-intensive firms. Human capital is a critical resource for firms’ activities. Nevertheless, this dimension is often obscured by industrial economists. In the light of critical resource theory, we analyze how taking into account the inalienable and inimitable nature of specific human capital entails a reconsideration of the role and boundaries of the firm. We show that the firm seeks to coordinate the specialization of its key partners within the frame of its economic boundaries to ensure the long-term optimization of its potential of value. Therefore, the value of the firm depends on all the resources that the firm coordinates. Then we focus on the way HCIF can create different values. We suggest that the firm builds its competitive advantage on different forms of values, in particular the symbolic value incorporated in human capital. Finally, on the basis of these considerations, we identify the wealth included in the critical resources of the firm and to bring to light the process of symbolic value creation associated with it. We suggest that the firm is the value-creating entity and the customer both recognizes and derives the value created from whatever it is that the firm provides. We propose a definition of this value and a schema of its creation process based on management works attempts. We conclude by proposing paths of research that could fruitfully be explored to further develop this new subject.


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How to Cite
CEZANNE, C., & SAGLIETTO, L. (2014). Human Capital-Intensive Firms and Symbolic Value Creation. Timisoara Journal of Economics and Business, 7(1), 70-88. Retrieved from