Intangible Ethical Assets


Managing Intangible Ethical Assets: Enhancing Corporate Identity, Corporate Brand, and Corporate Reputation To Fulfill The Social Contract, Special issue of Bus Ethics Quart; Deadline 31 Dec 2014

Business Ethics Quarterly




Submission Deadline: December 31, 2014

Guest editors

  • T. C. Melewar, Middlesex University London, UK
  • Rossella C. Gambetti, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Italy
  • Kelly D. Martin, Colorado State University, USA


Given the competitive intensity in today’s business climate, superior firm performance is increasingly reliant on the firm’s ability to manage critical intangible assets (i.e., corporate identity, corporate brand, and corporate reputation). Ethical management of intangible assets must balance traditional business objectives such as profit maximization and value creation with hetero-referred business objectives such as maximizing stakeholder value and satisfying broader market and social expectations. We believe that significant research opportunities exist regarding how ethical management of intangible assets may be nurtured through firm embodiment of societal and participatory orientations. Progressive “ethicalization” (Balmer, Fukukawa, & Gray, 2007) of intangible asset management involves efforts to include stakeholders in processes and structures related to corporate identity, corporate brand, and corporate reputation. Research findings that illuminate these activities are desperately needed to guide companies’ ethical management efforts, and to better orient such strategies and actions toward maximizing returns (Sen, Bhattacharya, & Korschun, 2006; Du, Bhattacharya, & Sen, 2010).

Recent studies on intangible assets management suggest that a shift from corporate-focused to stakeholder-centric corporate governance can boost competitive advantage (Balmer & Greyser, 2002; Hatch & Schultz, 2009). This extends the notion that corporate intangibles do not emanate solely from the firm, but rather they emerge from ongoing exchange between the firm and its stakeholders shaping mission, vision, goals, and objectives (Bhattacharya, Korschun, & Sen, 2009). In this view, corporate intangible assets embody a bilateral social contract of reciprocal commitment between the firm and its stakeholders (Hatch & Schultz, 2010; Cornelissen, Christensen, & Kinuthia 2012). This social contract underpins the pursuit of a dynamic balance between what the firm has promised and the desires of its stakeholders. Moreover, this suggests a “societal view” of intangible assets (Melewar, Gotsi, & Andriopoulos, 2012), the ethical management of which allows the firm to become fully integrated in its environment and to better respond to stakeholders’ expectations (Palazzo & Basu, 2007; Vallaster, Lindgreen, & Maon, 2012). Aligned with this view, intangible assets create a co-construction platform enabling the firm and its stakeholders to jointly design future goals and objectives (Biraghi & Gambetti, 2013).

This special issue will enhance understanding of the societal view of corporate intangible assets and related ethical management practices. We therefore welcome contributions that are multi-disciplinary, contain heterogeneous viewpoints, and use eclectic research methods to contribute to this emergent societal perspective. Furthermore, we expect that contributions will be rigorous, open-minded, and thought-provoking, in order to promote a greater insight into the ethical management of corporate intangible assets. It is hoped that the special issue will also complement traditional positivist/post-positivist empirical research approaches with approaches that appreciate social and contextual dynamics related to the ethical management of intangible assets in novel ways (Sidorov, Alexeyeva, & Shklyarik, 2000; Wieland, 2001; Brand, 2009).

Potential Topics

The Guest Editors welcome papers with original insights and advanced thinking linked to this emerging perspective. Submissions will be assessed through a double-blind peer review process, and should offer suitable innovative insights—based on rigorous and thoughtful conceptualization, literature review, empirical qualitative and/or quantitative studies, and case studies—into issues surrounding, but not necessarily limited to, the following research areas:

  • Societal approaches to building and sustaining competitive advantage by leveraging intangible assets;
  • Constructionist perspectives on corporate intangible asset management;
  • Developing foundations for corporate identity, corporate brand, and corporate reputation as socio-psychological constructs;
  • Linking corporate strategy, intangibles, and stakeholder expectations;
  • Role of corporate identity, corporate brand, and corporate reputation in sustaining firms in highly competitive or volatile markets;
  • Managerial approaches that can mobilize corporate intangible assets as social platforms;
  • Use of new technologies in engaging stakeholders in corporate intangible assets management;
  • Ethical corporate intangible assets management challenges and obstacles;
  • Diverse, multi-disciplinary, and context-driven research approaches to inform on ethical issues related to intangible assets.

Dates and Process

The BEQ submission guidelines and author guide are available at the links below:

Authors must submit manuscripts by December 31, 2014, using BEQ’s online system:

Review Process

The Guest Editors are seeking reviewers for this special issue and are soliciting nominations and volunteers to participate in the review process. Authors of submitted papers will be automatically included as reviewers. Papers will be reviewed following the regular BEQ double-blind review process.

About BEQ

BEQ publishes new scholarly studies on topics relevant to CSR and the ethics of business, including:

  • Theoretical work including analytical, conceptual, and normative articles;
  • Qualitative (e.g., interview, participant-observer, ethnographic, case-based) work that makes an original theoretical contribution;
  • Quantitative (e.g., experimental, field, measure development) work that makes an original theoretical contribution; or
  • Historical work that makes an original theoretical contribution.

BEQ 2-year Impact Factor: 2.196 (2012)
BEQ 5-year Impact Factor: 2.555 (2012)

For more information, see

More Information

For additional information, please contact one of the special issue editors:

T. C. Melewar:
Rossella C. Gambetti:
Kelly D. Martin:


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