The term `Intellectual Capital´ (IC) refers to the resources on which the organisation relies in the broadest sense, including not only human capital resources, but those of the organisation itself and its relations with its environment.
The concept of IC is a term that has been conceived through practice. IC has also been categorized in different ways by academics and business management since the mid-1990s. It is important to stress the notable efforts that the business world has made in the search for a valid universal classification. However, without doubt, the tripartite classification is the one that has the widest acceptation in the specialised literature and in political language, structuring IC in three blocks that are human capital, structural capital and relational capital. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the real wealth from IC not only resides in the sum of the elements which make up the whole, but in the interconnections between them .

In the context of universities human capital is the knowledge that resides in individuals which includes teachers, researchers, PhD students and administrative staff. Structural capital comprises the governance principles, the organisational routines, procedures, systems, university culture, databases, publications, intellectual property etc. of a university. Finally, relational capital is related to the various types of relations to its stakeholders and very similar to what is known as Third Mission. Relational capital includes all the activities and relations between university and non-academic partners: firms, non-profit organisations, public authorities, local government, and society as a whole.

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