Special Issue - Knowledge Intensive Organizations and their role in promoting sustainable developmen

Starts:  Mar 1, 2021 10:00 (CET)
Ends:  Jul 15, 2021 23:59 (CET)
Associated with  Entrepreneurship (ENT)

Call for Papers

Knowledge Intensive Organizations and their role in promoting sustainable development

Special Issue - Journal Administrative Sciences

Deadline: 15 July 2021

Guest editors

Rocío de la Torre, Public University of Navarre, Spain

Jasmina Berbegal-Mirabent, Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Spain



The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unprecedented challenge with very severe socio-economic consequences. In the span of just a few weeks, the way we work, communicate, and run daily life has drastically changed. In this context many organizations have had to lower the blinds and close their doors, notwithstanding, knowledge-intensive organizations (KIOs) have showcased their ability to readapt. While in the previous economic crisis KIOs were seriously damaged and suffered significant cuts in their budgets (e.g., hospitals, universities, research centers, etc.), they are now deemed as fundamental in order to ensure the survival of our model of life and envisage creative opportunities to recover from this situation.

KIOs represent a specific case in the service industry, for which capacity depends on the size and composition of the workforce. Even though there is still a lack of consensus on the definition of what a KIO is (Makani & Marche, 2010), these organizations distinguish from others by assuming that knowledge is the most important resource, being immaterial and ambiguous (Alvesson, 1993). Another key feature is their capacity to solve problems trough creative and innovative solutions (Robertson & Swan, 2003). Therefore, their competitive advantage lies in creating, applying and preserving superior knowledge and expertise within the organization.

The existing literature on KIOs is rich (Lönnqvist & Laihonen, 2017), with a primary focus on its personnel—how knowledge workers are managed (e.g., Lafuente & Berbegal-Mirabent, 2019; Millar et al., 2018)—, information flows—how these organizations contribute to economic growth and business innovation (e.g., Horváth & Berbegal-Mirabent, 2020)—and knowledge management—the decisions linked to strategic, capacity planning and knowledge retention (e.g. De la Torre et al., 2016; Martínez et al., 2014).

While these topics are relevant, the current economic and social crisis, invites us to go a step further and dive deeper on the innovative capacity of these organizations. This approach has been overlooked by academics and policy-makers alike despite the existing evidence on the goodness of prioritizing innovation and development as a strategic tool for economic sustainability (e.g., Colombo et al., 2016).

Rooted in this context, this Special Issue focuses its attention on KIOs and how they are navigating the crisis during these uncertain times, adopting new strategies, reallocating their resources, and reshaping their business models to come up with innovative and breakthrough solutions that keep supporting the needs of their communities.

In methodological terms, we encourage conceptual, case-based, and empirically-based submissions. Moreover, we recommend that authors pay explicit attention to the managerial and policy implications of their findings.



Berbegal-Mirabent, J., de la Torre, R., & Gil-Doménech, D. (2020, forthcoming). Capitalizing new knowledge through R&D alliances: Evidence from Catalan technology centres. International Journal of Technology Management.

Alvesson, M. (1993). Organization as a rethoric: Knowledge-intensive firms and the struggle with ambiguity. Journal of Management Studies, 30, 997-1015.

Colombo, M.G., Piva, E., Quas, A., & Rossi-Lamastra, C. (2016). How high-tech entrepreneurial ventures cope with the global crisis: Changes in product innovation and internationalization strategies. Industry and Innovation, 23(7), 647-671.

De la Torre, R., Lusa, A., & Mateo, M. (2016). A MILP model for the long term academic staff size and composition planning in public universities. Omega63, 1-11.

Horváth, K., & Berbegal-Mirabent, J. (2020). The role of universities on the consolidation of knowledge-based sectors: A spatial econometric analysis of KIBS formation rates in Spanish regions. Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, 100900.

Lafuente, E., & Berbegal-Mirabent, J. (2019). Contract employment policy and research productivity of knowledge workers: an analysis of Spanish universities. The International Journal of Human Resource Management30(16), 2360-2386.

Lönnqvist, A., & Laihonen, H. (2017). Management of knowledge-intensive organisations: What do we know after 20 years of research? International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development8(2), 154-167.

Makani, J., & Marche, S. (2010). Towards a typology of knowledge-intensive organizations: determinant factors. Knowledge Management Research & Practice, 8(3), 265-277.

Martínez, C., Lusa, A., Mas, M., De la Torre, R., & Mateo, M. (2014). Strategic capacity planning in KIOs: A classification scheme. In Annals of Industrial Engineering 2012 (pp. 191-198). Springer, London.

Millar, C.C., Chen, S., & Waller, L. (2018). Leadership, knowledge and people in knowledge-intensive organisations: implications for HRM theory and practice. International Journal fo Human Resource Management, 28(2), 261-275.

Robertson, M., & Swan, J. (2003). ‘Control-What control?’ Culture and ambiguity within a knowledge intensive firm. Journal of Management Studies, 40, 831-858.


Jasmina Berbegal-Mirabent