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Social Capital as the Source of Competitive Intelligence in Universities

Eva Ortoll-Espinet (

Lecturer, Information and Communication Sciences Department, UOC

Alexandre López-Borrull (

Lecturer, Information and Communication Sciences Department, UOC

Josep Cobarsí-Morales (

Lecturer, Information and Communication Sciences Department, UOC

Montserrat Garcia-Alsina (

Lecturer, Information and Communication Sciences Department, UOC

Agustí Canals (

Lecturer, Information and Communication Sciences Department, UOC


As organisations, universities coexist in an environment that conditions them and makes them change. Adapting to change is both a necessity and a challenge. Consequently, to universities the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) constitutes a shift in the rules of the game, which, together with a greater interrelationship with the employment market and a rise in competitiveness, means that universities need to have a number of change detection mechanisms. Therefore, as has been occurring within the business fabric for some years, competitive intelligence (CI) becomes a tool, which, when rooted in its current role, can help universities with this new adaptation. CI is seen as a process for searching for, selecting, analysing and disseminating information of the environmental elements that may impact on an organisation. The result of this process acts as a support for decision-making and strategic planning. One of the instruments most widely used in CI to obtain strategic value information is the network of relationships and contacts of the organisation and its members. The social capital, therefore, is a very important information exchange instrument and may become a valuable resource for organisations. Social capital is an important factor in CI processes. This article shows the importance of social capital and relationship networks as a valuable resource specific to universities within CI processes and aid in adapting to changes in the environment. In specific terms, it is proposed as valuable tool in the design and adaptation of a university's qualifications catalogue.


EHEA, competitive intelligence, social capital, universities

Submission date:  July 2001
Accepted in:  October 2008
Published in:  November 2008

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