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Very little systematic research has examined the applicability of strategic management concepts including SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, industrial organization, resource-based view and core competency, knowledge-based view, Balanced Scorecard and intellectual capital (IC) through the lens of strategic management development in the non-profit context. This paper aims to examine the above concepts in the light of the unique non-profit environment and determine which one is most applicable to social service non-profit organizations (SSNPOs) in the knowledge economy. Based on a review of the development of strategic management with a focus on the above concepts within the non-profit context, this paper argues that the IC concept is more effective compared with the other concepts in the social service non-profit sector. The paper is considered as a starting point and serves as a milestone in applying IC as a strategic management conceptual framework in the social service non-profit sector. It helps to build a nascent body of literature suggesting that IC can be used as a competent strategic management conceptual framework in the social service non-profit sector. A better understanding of the strategic management development in the non-profit context also helps non-profit leaders to appreciate that IC is the most appropriate strategic management concept in SSNPOs. The increased awareness of the IC concept in SSNPOs, as a result of this paper, will probably generate further research from both academic scholars and non-profit practitioners.