Roberto Alcalde-Delgado1, Carlos Alonso de Armiño1, Miguel Ángel Manzanedo del Campo1, and Ricardo del Olmo Martínez1

1 Universidad de Burgos. Plaza Infanta Doña Elena, s/n, 09001 Burgos, Spain.

Keywords: Intangible asset, Intellectual Capital, Bankruptcy, Industry 4.0

1. Introduction

Significant investments in intangible assets (software, licences, patents, R&D), fixed assets (industrial labour, machinery, hardware) are taking place thanks to the promise of improvements driven by Industry 4.0 enabling technologies [1].

This fourth revolution involves a major technology transfer process that needs to be properly managed if success is to be achieved. Intangible management, which focuses on intellectual capital, can help in the creation of value and benefits for the company [2].

There are studies that indicate a positive correlation in company profit when linking Industry 4.0 and intellectual capital [3]. However, there are very few studies linking the efficient use of intellectual capital with a reduction in the likelihood of bankruptcy [4,5].

In this paper, an empirical study is carried out to justify that intangible assets accounted for increase profitability only if there is an efficient use of intellectual capital and therefore of these assets. Otherwise, they increase the probability of bankruptcy. This case study should be taken into account when investing in Industry 4.0 projects, as intangible assets can accumulate without being used.

2. Conclusion

This paper shows that intangible assets increase the probability of bankruptcy if intellectual capital is not used efficiently.

Therefore, this confirmed hypothesis should be kept in mind, so that a favourable decision to embark on an Industry 4.0 project should only be made when it has been demonstrated that it will allow for an efficient use of intellectual capital to increase profit.

Thus, the key to an adequate transformation towards Industry 4.0 is the efficient use of the resources generated in the project, since otherwise, the benefit will be lower than expected.

There are some limitations under study. First, there has been no analysis by sector of activity, nor by strategic status, nor by country, to study the differences. Second, although the time period is 4 years, it should be extended to confirm the results in other years. These limitations signal the scope for future research.


  1. Tarasov I.V. Industry 4.0: Technologies and their impact on productivity of industrial companies. Strategic decisions and risk management. 2018;(2):62-69.
  2. Cabrita M.R., Cruz-Machado V., Duarte S. (2019) Enhancing the Benefits of Industry 4.0 from Intellectual Capital: A Theoretical Approach. In: Xu J., Cooke F., Gen M., Ahmed S. (eds) Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Management Science and Engineering Management. ICMSEM 2018. Lecture Notes on Multidisciplinary Industrial Engineering. Springer, Cham.
  3. Osinski, M., Selig, P.M., Matos, F. and Roman, D.J. (2017), “Methods of evaluation of intangible assets and intellectual capital”, Journal of Intellectual Capital, 18 (3), 470-485.
  4. Cenciarelli, V.G., Greco, G. and Allegrini, M. (2018), “Does intellectual capital help predict bankruptcy?”, Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 321-337.
  5. Shahwan, T. M., & Habib, A. M. (2020). Does the efficiency of corporate governance and intellectual capital affect a firm’s financial distress? Evidence from Egypt. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 21(3),


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Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Industrial Management and XXV Congreso de Ingeniería de Organización Copyright © by (Eds.) José Manuel Galán; Silvia Díaz-de la Fuente; Carlos Alonso de Armiño Pérez; Roberto Alcalde Delgado; Juan José Lavios Villahoz; Álvaro Herrero Cosío; Miguel Ángel Manzanedo del Campo; and Ricardo del Olmo Martínez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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