Intellectual capital disclosure: evidence from UK accounting firms

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Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent and quality of voluntary intellectual disclosures (ICD) by professional accounting firms (PAFs) in the United Kingdom (UK).

Design/methodology/approach
The research method adopted for this study is content analysis considering the ICD in firms’ annual reports, corporate social responsibility reports, websites and recruitment materials. The sample for this research is based on 20 PAFs ranked by fee income. The paper employs institutional theory as its theoretical lens.

Findings
Findings show that ICDs vary across different forms of reports. The most frequently reported disclosure category is human capital, while the least reported category is internal capital. Monetary disclosures are most likely to relate to internal capital whilst pictorial disclosures are most likely to relate to human capital.

Research limitations/implications
The sample size of the study is relatively small reflecting the extreme market concentration of accounting services in the UK and internationally. Future research can conduct a longitudinal study to capture the trend of reporting practices and consider narrative and discursive approaches to ICD.

Originality/value
No previous studies of intellectual capital (IC) disclosure have considered ICDs in professional service firms that are in themselves rich sources of human capital. Furthermore, the investigation uses a wide range of communications and assesses monetary, non-monetary, narrative and pictorial disclosures. This research extends both the IC disclosure and PAFs’ literatures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)768-786
JournalJournal of Intellectual Capital
Volume19
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jul 2018

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