In some ways, human capital is more important than financial capital, or technology. A major question becomes: To whom does the company belong? It is imperative to take this economic and social aspect of the New Economy into account in corporate governance research, because a single-minded focus on the financial aspect of economic development only serves to obscure something that is far more than just one variable among others in the calculation of economic value.


The phenomenon of human capital is gaining greater importance in the field of corporate governance research. Human capital is generally defined as the collection of skills and knowledge possessed by individuals and deployed within the firm. The «traditional view» of the industrial enterprise was of a space of embedded technology, with little regard for the specific human competences that were employed there. Today, on the other hand, human capital has greater importance because a service-based economy depends almost exclusively on the skills and knowledge of individuals.

These facts lead us to identify two important issues:

What is the meaning and importance of financial ownership of a company when an increasing part of the value created by that company depends on the ownership and deployment of human capital?

How can the fickleness of many shareholders, who see the firm as only a financial investment, be reconciled with the need to nurture and develop a long term strategy to keep essential human capital embedded within the firm? In order to understand this complicated relationship, our research focuses on the link between changes in ownership and turnover in personnel: do employees remain «faithful» to their company even when shareholders do not? Our research makes use of the IFGE database that brings together information on the most important socio-professional indicators in French companies over the past five years. This information can be crossed with other financial, economic, and social data from companies, to better discern the relationships between them.

How can individuals increase their level of human capital within the context of the firm?

Human capital can increase within the firm, but it can also deteriorate (loss of skills, reputation, networks, etcÉ). Employees are increasingly demanding action on the part of their firms to maintain their levels of human capital. This is having an impact on firm governance. Our research, mainly qualitative, focuses on the corporate governance of firms using high levels of autonomous human capital (research laboratories, financial institutions, etcÉ) in order to understand the interaction between human capital and corporate governance, and efforts to increase human capital through the mechanisms of corporate governance.


If you would like to contribute to this research stream, contact Bertrand Valiorgue

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Pascale Levet

Head of Lab’ho ADECCO

«IFGE develops analytical frameworks that are always useful to understand the ever growing complexity of the world»

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