Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide a new framework for managing intellectual capital (IC) inside a university considering the collective intelligence perspective. Design/methodology/approach – The research method uses the fourth stage of IC research and adopts the collective intelligence approach. The underlying assumption behind the framework is to consider the university as a collective intelligence system in which the tangible and intellectual assets are coordinated towards the achievement of strategic goals. Findings – The conceptual framework for IC management harnesses the power of IC, collectively created by the engagement of multiple stakeholders inside the university network. The main components are the final goal of a university (what); the collective human capital to achieve the goal (who); the processes activated inside the university (how); and finally the motivations behind the achievement of the goal (why). Research limitations/implications – The research is exploratory and the framework offers opportunities for refinement. Future research is needed to verify the application of the framework to other organisations in the public sector intended as collective intelligence systems. A new perspective for managing IC in universities adopting the collective intelligence approach is developed. Contribution to the fourth stage (ecosystem) of IC research is highlighted, expanding the concept of IC value creation beyond the university into wider society. Practical implications – The framework can be used to manage IC strategically in all the systems interpreted as collective intelligence systems in which the role of IC creation from multiple actors is relevant. This makes possible the understanding of how IC helps create value for the society and the region in which the university operates. Originality/value – The originality of the paper is in bringing together issues usually dealt within the literature in separate domains, such as IC management and collective intelligence perspective. The concept of collective intelligence remains an unexplored field in relation to IC management in the public sector. The collective intelligence approach provides a novel contribution to managing IC and is intended to inspire future research.