This paper aims to provide a Structured Literature Review (SLR) about the strategic role of Intellectual Capital (IC) for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It offers an outline of past and present literature and frames a future research agenda. It analyses papers published in journals from 2003 – 2018 with the aim of deriving significant insights about IC's determinants for achieving SDGs. Although empirical and theoretical studies have shown a positive relationship between IC and sustainability, the research remains an emerging area of growing importance. Although no explicit specialisation in the topic currently exists, findings highlight the “sustainability imperative” and convergence toward the following research areas: IC components for Sustainable Development in Private Sector, IC for Sustainable Regional Development in the Knowledge Economy, and IC for Sustainable Development in the Public Sector. Discussions indicate that some SDGs are starting to be explored more than others (e.g., quality education, infrastructure, health, cities and communities) and that only recently some studies are specialising specifically in the importance of technology to address the SDGs. Implications for technology policy have been highlighted to frame a future research agenda for academics and practitioners.
The topic of sustainability and sustainable development has recently gained importance on the agenda of academics and practitioners. This is due to the relevance and dissemination of the report published by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development, known as the Brundtland Report (Brundtland, 1987). An accepted definition identifies its three main pillars: economic, social, and environmental sustainability (Wasiluk, 2013, p. 103). The topic of sustainability also gained more attention due to the 2015 launch of the United Nations ‘Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’ 2030 agenda. It consisted of global and universal indicators for international cooperation as well as for the collaboration of civil society, governments, multilateral institutions and the private sector (Nam, 2015). The Sustainable development framework includes 17 SDGs that embrace a wide range of environmental, social and economic issues, including climate change, energy, biodiversity, food supply and security, sustainable production and consumption, healthcare, education, gender, equality, peace and economic growth (Gupta and Vegelin, 2016). The goal of sustainable development is to find the effective solutions for some complex challenges and issues such as energy, climate change, pollution, migration, ecosystem resilience, food security and many others that require a cross disciplinary perspective (Suciu and Nàsulea, 2019, page 73; Birtchnell et al., 2017). Within this debate, some scholars began to consider Intellectual Capital (IC) an important link between support needs and development needs to fulfil the SDGs (Suciu and Nàsulea, 2019; Massaro et al., 2018). Several studies argue that IC is the most powerful economic production engine and the most important driver of smart, sustainable, inclusive, economic and social development (Matos et al., 2017; Suciu and Nasulea, 2019).