This paper has differentiated “best” from “worst” innovative companies, taking into account three separate bodies of literature, that is, the intellectual capital, knowledge-based view and innovation literatures. Based on a sample of 181 firms that belong to the manufacturing and services industries, our findings showed that the best innovation performance companies (considering both financial and non-financial dimensions of innovation success), which also presented higher firm performance, had systematically higher scores for all dimensions of intellectual capital (human, organizational and social capital), for knowledge exchange and combination than the worst innovation performance companies. However, with regard to knowledge types, our results were not as conclusive. There were no differences between best and worst innovation performance companies in terms of their systemic knowledge. Codified and simple knowledge were related to best innovation performance companies only in their financial dimension. Finally, regarding radicalness, firms with more innovation success were those which provided new products or services that incorporated new technology and new customer benefits (uniqueness), while firms with less innovation success launched new products or services that were unfamiliar or difficult to understand by customers. These findings contribute to the innovation literature providing a pretty full picture of best and worst innovative companies.
Key words: Intellectual capital, human capital, social capital, organizational capital, knowledge, radicalness, innovation performance.
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