Journal of Public Affairs


Value Creation in Knowledge Intensive Institutions: Priorities for Governance and Public Affairs


Journal Special Issue


Carla Millar (University of Twente), Kai Peters (Hult International Business School), Hartley Millar (University of Chester)


October 1, 2016


What is the special issue about?

This Special Issue focuses on the key characteristics and values of knowledge intensive institutions, how public affairs can contribute to their impact, and how governance and ethical behaviour can increase their value by supporting creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Knowledge intensive services (KIS), knowledge organisation (KIOs), knowledge transfer industries and the nexus in which they interact are increasingly important and regularly referred to by politicians as a key facilitator of prosperity and growth. This is accompanied by the realisation that people’s knowledge, experience and creativity form the backbone of many organisations’ success; optimising the use of their knowledge to achieve the organisation’s aims and objectives is of key importance, as is the retention of skilled practitioners’ knowledge over time.

Knowledge intensive services (KIS) are defined as services where ‘knowledge is the main production factor and the good they offer’ (European Commission, 2012). These include not only professional knowledge-intensive business services (KIBS) such as IT services, financial services, medical services, legal services, management consultancies (Anand et al. 2007) and creative businesses but also non-business organisations such as educational services, universities, cultural organisations and public service organisations (in total ‘KIOs’).

The importance of such activities has been increasing in many economies worldwide, particularly in developed economies. It is estimated that in the UK, Finland and Sweden, KIOs account for more than 39% of employment (European Commission, 2012). In delineating the scope of the wider category of knowledge intensive environments, we look to definitions such as the activities of “organisations / firms whose primary value-added activities consist of the accumulation, creation, or dissemination of knowledge for the purpose of developing a customised service” (Bettencourt et al. 2002), also Caniëls & Romijn (2005), Simmie and Strambach (2006), Strambach (2008), as “Companies / organisations which rely heavily on professional knowledge, i.e. knowledge or expertise related to a specific (technical) discipline or functional domain, to supply products and services that are knowledge based” (Den Hartog 2000) as well as public administration / the Civil Service.

While the importance of KIOs is increasingly recognised, the KIOs in turn are realising the need for their value creation to be visible and understood not only among customers but also in the wider environment of politics and public opinion.

Public affairs is of importance to KIOs as they face a number of new developments in their competitive environment including a global shortage of talent (Schuler et al, 2011), information technologies that are reshaping the competitive landscape in KIOs (Federoff, 2012), the development of new business models such as offshoring of knowledge-intensive services (Lewin et al, 2009) and global open innovation models (Chesbrough, 2010), all affecting opportunities and barriers to entrepreneurship and value creation. At the same time the transformative capacity of knowledge throws up ethical and governance challenges about how those with the knowledge behave in husbanding, commercialising and benefitting from it - especially when information asymmetry means it is they who are the best able to assess its value.

The diversity of organisational forms among KIOs may reflect the different leadership and management approaches and the cultures that grow up in them. One form is the long-established organisations that base professional services on their knowledge assets (e.g. law, accountancy, consultancy). Often these are characterised by partnerships without external ownership, informal management, up-or-out promotion, and an emphasis on professionalization, which tends to manage quality by the use of control mechanisms not necessarily suitable to the demands of the contemporary knowledge intensive operating environment. As professions, many also thrive on a monopoly on the use of the knowledge for their profession, autonomous (self-) regulation, rules and practices that exclude non-professionals and mitigate competition amongst professionals; this can lead to a club-like environment with distinctive behaviour and even its own code of ethics. Attempts to apply skills from elsewhere to such an environment regularly end in failure (see also Von Nordenflycht, 2010) suggesting that standardised approaches to KIOs in general may not be effective.

The academic world has its own particular styles of management and interaction which have evolved alongside a more open approach to dissemination of knowledge; of late however there has been an increasing emphasis on ‘valorisation’ and commercialisation of knowledge, raising the question of whether traditional approaches to people, process and governance remain the most appropriate.

The changing environment for KIOs is further evidenced by a more recent wave of commercially-oriented institutions, characterised by emphasis on the search for innovative and self-starting individuals, giving them freedom to deploy their talents creatively, and basing revenue generation and growth on the value of the input given to clients together with the star quality of staff or teams. In such organisations employee bargaining power and preference for autonomy make authority problematic (Anand et al., 2007) and lead to organisational responses in the form of alternative compensation mechanisms and autonomy and informality in organisational structure. While behaviour, leadership and management in such organisations may often be “light touch” at the same time it needs to pay particular and constant attention to inspiring, developing and retaining staff and at the same time presenting a face to the outside world that is understandable and compliant with standards of governance and accountability.

The rising importance of intangibles in economies worldwide further highlights the crucial role of knowledge intensive and creative communication industries in current and future wealth generation. The recognition of this trend has led to intense competition in these industries (Mudambi, 2008).

In an environment where various knowledge intensive organisations are struggling to find the optimum management approach and develop robust and responsive cultures, issues of ethics and effectiveness are important both for those in the organisations and for society as whole (as in the case of the culture developed in banks).

While the creation of a ‘healthy’ infrastructure of effective KIOs is a priority, the plethora of publications on “knowledge management” contains little that addresses the leadership, strategy and governance, ethics and values challenges peculiar to organisations whose fortunes revolve around knowledge activities. To date research on value creation (Løwendahl, 2001) in KIOs has not kept pace with research in manufacturing organisations. Other research in this area has not progressed strongly and major gaps are observable, even in the Public Affairs domain despite the importance many governments ascribe to supporting such sectors of the economy.

The topic of this Special Issue combines attention to the values of KIOs with attention to the value they create, and seeks contributions that address the ethics and governance underpinning these. The Special Issue is open both to papers covering value creation in knowledge intensive services and institutions, such as educational institutions in general, and those covering aspects of values, ethics and public affairs. A variety of routes seems open to research Public Affairs’ role in creating or supporting value creation. Fleisher and Nickel (1995) highlighted process innovations in PA like TQM, whereas Googins & Rochlin (2002) and Humphreys & Grayson (2008) examined public affairs’ partnership route to create value. Next to Grönroos’ (2004) arguments that relationship overarches the value creation of marcom and public affairs, Surie & Ashley (2008) posit that sustaining entrepreneurial leadership for value creation necessitates ethical action to build legitimacy, and various authors link public affairs and value creation to CSR (Husted & Allen, 2009).

Our ambition for this Special Issue is that it will further insights into values, processes, functions and governance in KIOs such as universities, other centres of research and knowledge intensive institutions, as well as drawing implications from research in knowledge intensive institutions, for the development and management of sound, ethical and effective knowledge activities in general.

We are seeking both conceptual and empirical papers offering new insights into topics such as those below; all should be focused on creativity, entrepreneurship and value creation within and by knowledge intensive / professional services as defined above; in view of the limited research in the field, explicit coverage of/application to the professional conduct of Public Affairs is not required but would be appreciated.

 Possible topics:

  • New applications of theories of both value creation and innovation as they apply to knowledge-intensive organisational environments in general and PA in particular.
  • Stimulation of and leadership for widespread innovation, Knowledge Cities, “silicon” hubs, clusters, critical mass.
  • How knowledge intensive and innovative organisations provide ‘balance’ in economies and underpin desirable values in society.
  • How to challenge and facilitate creative potential in knowledge intensive organisations and services.
  • Fostering entrepreneurship and innovation management in strategically important KIOs.
  • Creative use of talent, and tacit knowledge as sources of strength and competitive advantage for the knowledge intensive sector.
  • KIO responses to social imperatives such as diversity, social inclusion, promotion of science & technology.
  • Organisational and institutional responses to knowledge gaps and national research agendas – in the larger environment and internally.
  • Conditions for success of state and private aid and preferment regimes addressed to the activities of KIOs.
  • Strategies for being (national) champion and leading in value creation in knowledge intensive sectors.
  • Information asymmetry as an opportunity and an (ethical) challenge for KIOs.
  • Knowledge hoarding, patent trolling and open research.
  • Identifying and combatting knowledge corruption within KI organisations and in knowledge intensive sectors
  • Effectiveness and systemic impact of KIO recruitment and retention strategies for key knowledge workers.
  • Impact of KIOs on migration, brain drain and cultural globalisation.
  • Public Affairs as a knowledge intensive industry
  • Integrity in KIOs and in Public Affairs in particular

Deadlines and review process

We welcome the submission of original full papers and policy papers, case studies and experience pieces to include contributions based on robust empirical investigation(s), with solid theoretical underpinnings, building on a comprehensive body of literature, setting the agenda for future research. All proposals will be reviewed by members of the editorial board and judged according to rigour and relevance as well as their ability to enhance JPAs reputation.

Deadline for the submission of full papers 1st October 2016


·         All manuscripts will be double-blind reviewed.

·         Papers are submitted with the understanding

o    that they are original, unpublished works 

o    that they are not being submitted elsewhere

·         For submission details please see JPA’s Guidelines for authors:

·         However, for this Special Issue do not upload to Manuscript Central

·         Please submit to with ‘JPA2’ in the email heading.


·          Anand, N, H.K.Gardner, T.Morris (2007), Knowledge based innovation: emergence and embedding of new practice areas in management consulting firms. Academy of Management Journal 50(2): 406-428.

·          Bettencourt, L. A., Ostrom, A. L., Brown, S. W., & Roundtree, R. I. (2002). Client Co-Production in Knowledge-Intensive Business Services. California Management Review, 44(4), 100-128.

·          Caniëls, M.C.J. & Romijn, H.A. (2005). What works, and why, in business services provision for SME? : insights from evolutionary theory. Managing Service Quality, 15(6), 591-608.

·          Chesbrough, Henry (2010). Open services innovation: rethinking your business to grow and compete in a new era. John Wiley & Sons.

·          European Commission (2012). Knowledge-intensive (business) services in Europe. Available at

·          Fedoroff, Nina V (2012). "The global knowledge society." Science 335.6068: 503-503.

·          Fleisher, Craig S. & Joanne R. Nickel (1995) Attempting TQM in organizational staff areas: TQM as managerial innovation in corporate public affairs. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences / Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration. 12 (2): 116-127

·          Googins, Bradley K & Steven A Rochlin (2002)  Creating the Partnership Society: Understanding the Rhetoric and Reality of Cross-Sectoral Partnerships. Business and Society Review 105 (1): 127-144

·          Grönroos, Christian (2004) "The relationship marketing process: communication, interaction, dialogue, value", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, 19 (2): 99 - 113

·          den Hartog, P. (2000): Knowledge-Intensive Business Services as Co-Producers of In-novation. International Journal of Innovation Management, 4, 491-528.

·          Humphreys, Ashlee & Kent Grayson (2008)  The Intersecting Roles of Consumer and Producer: A Critical Perspective on Co-production, Co-creation and Prosumption, Sociology Compass 2 (3): 963-980

·          Lewin, Arie, Silvia Massini, and Carine Peeters (2009). "Why are companies offshoring innovation?: The emerging global race for talent." Journal of International Business Studies 40.6: 901-925.

·          Løwendahl, Bente R., Øivind Revang, and Siw M. Fosstenløkken. (2001) "Knowledge and value creation in professional service firms: A framework for analysis." Human Relations 54(7): 911-931.

·          Schuler, Randall S., Susan E. Jackson, and Ibraiz Tarique (2011). "Global talent management and global talent challenges: Strategic opportunities for IHRM." Journal of World Business 46.4: 506-516.


·          Simmie, J., & Strambach, S. (2006). The Contribution of KIBS to Innovation in Cities: An Evolutionary and Institutional Perspective. Journal Of Knowledge Management, 10(5), 26-40

·          Strambach, S. (2008). Knowledge-Intensive Business Services (KIBS) as drivers of multilevel knowledge dynamics. International Journal Of Services Technology & Management, 10, 152-174

·          Surie, Gita & Allen Ashley (2008) Integrating Pragmatism and Ethics in Entrepreneurial Leadership for Sustainable Value Creation. Journal of Business Ethics (2008) 81:235–246

·          Von Nordenflycht, Andrew. "What is a professional service firm? Toward a theory and taxonomy of knowledge-intensive firms." Academy of Management Review 35.1 (2010): 155-174.

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