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Has the importance of intangibles really grown? And if so, why?


  • Sudipta Basu
  • Gregory Waymire


Intangibles are ideas or knowledge about the natural (physical and biological) and socio‐cultural worlds that enable people to better accomplish their goals, both in primitive societies and in modern economies. Intangibles include basic research and technology improvements, as well as knowledge to better organise exchange and production, and over time become inextricably embedded in improved tangible assets. Accounting intangibles are legally excludable subsets of economic intangibles, which in turn are the subsets of cultural intangibles that can be used to create tradable goods or services. Because economic intangibles are cumulative, synergistic, and frequently inseparable from other tangible assets and/or economic intangibles not owned by any single entity, it is usually futile to estimate a separate accounting value for individual intangibles. However, the income that intangibles together generate provides useful inputs for equity valuation, and voluntary non‐financial disclosures could be informative for this purpose.

Suggested Citation

  • Sudipta Basu & Gregory Waymire, 2008. "Has the importance of intangibles really grown? And if so, why?," Accounting and Business Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(3), pages 171-190.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:acctbr:v:38:y:2008:i:3:p:171-190
    DOI: 10.1080/00014788.2008.9663331

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Morris M. Kleiner, 2006. "Licensing Occupations: Ensuring Quality or Restricting Competition?," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number lo, july-dece.
    2. Douglass C. North, 2005. "Introduction to Understanding the Process of Economic Change," Introductory Chapters, in: Understanding the Process of Economic Change, Princeton University Press.
    3. repec:aei:rpbook:53337 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Yasean A. Tahat & Ahmed H. Ahmed & Mohammad M. Alhadab, 2018. "The impact of intangibles on firms’ financial and market performance: UK evidence," Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting, Springer, vol. 50(4), pages 1147-1168, May.
    2. Pierre Astolfi & Luc Paugam & Olivier Ramond, 2012. "Purchase Price Allocations: Do they Matter?," Post-Print halshs-00671611, HAL.
    3. Biondi Yuri, 2011. "The Pure Logic of Accounting: A Critique of the Fair Value Revolution," Accounting, Economics, and Law: A Convivium, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-49, January.
    4. Shigufta Hena Uzma & J.P. Singh & Naveen Kumar, 2010. "Discounted Cash Flow and Its Implication on Intangible Valuation," Global Business Review, International Management Institute, vol. 11(3), pages 365-377, October.
    5. Paugam, Luc, 2011. "Valorisation et reporting du goodwill : enjeux théoriques et empiriques," Economics Thesis from University Paris Dauphine, Paris Dauphine University, number 123456789/8007 edited by Casta, Jean-François.
    6. Thomas Bassetti & Lorenzo Dal Maso & Giovanni Liberatore & Francesco Mazzi, 2020. "A critical validation of the value added intellectual coefficient: use in empirical research and comparison with alternative measures of intellectual capital," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 24(4), pages 1115-1145, December.
    7. Jean-Michel Sahut & Sandrine Boulerne & Frédéric Teulon, 2011. "Do IFRS provide better information about intangibles in Europe?," Review of Accounting and Finance, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 10(3), pages 267-290, August.
    8. Luc Paugam & Pierre Astolfi & Olivier Ramond, 2015. "Accounting for business combinations: Do purchase price allocations matter?," Post-Print hal-01277376, HAL.
    9. Basu Sudipta & Waymire Gregory B., 2019. "Historical Cost and Conservatism Are Joint Adaptations That Help Identify Opportunity Cost," Accounting, Economics, and Law: A Convivium, De Gruyter, vol. 9(1), pages 1-13, March.
    10. Christopher Nobes & Christian Stadler, 2021. "Towards a Solution to the Variety in Accounting Practices of Extractive Firms under IFRS," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 31(4), pages 273-285, December.
    11. Jean-François Casta & Luc Paugam & Hervé Stolowy, 2011. "Non-additivity in accounting valuation: Internally generated goodwill as an aggregation of interacting assets," Post-Print halshs-00541525, HAL.
    12. P. Astolfi & Luc Paugam & Olivier Ramond, 2012. "Purchase Price Allocations: Do they Matter?," Post-Print hal-00934973, HAL.
    13. Richard Barker & Alan Teixeira, 2018. "Gaps in the IFRS Conceptual Framework," Accounting in Europe, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(2), pages 153-166, May.
    14. Smith, Julia A. & Cordina, Renzo, 2014. "The role of accounting in high-technology investments," The British Accounting Review, Elsevier, vol. 46(3), pages 309-322.
    15. Higgins, Huong, 2013. "Can securities analysts forecast intangible firms’ earnings?," International Journal of Forecasting, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 155-174.
    16. Tommaso Pucci & Christian Simoni & Lorenzo Zanni, 2015. "Measuring the relationship between marketing assets, intellectual capital and firm performance," Journal of Management & Governance, Springer;Accademia Italiana di Economia Aziendale (AIDEA), vol. 19(3), pages 589-616, August.
    17. Omar Alsinglawi & Mohammad Aladwan, 2018. "The Effect of Invisible Intangibles on Volatility of Stock Prices," Modern Applied Science, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 12(11), pages 290-290, November.
    18. Kaiss Sarra & Nezha Baghar & Mounime El Kabbouri, 2018. "Goodwill and Performance," Journal of Applied Finance & Banking, SCIENPRESS Ltd, vol. 8(3), pages 1-2.
    19. Bernard Gumb & Alan Fustec, 2013. "The Story of the French Touch on "Immat?riels": A Retrospective," FINANCIAL REPORTING, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2013(3-4), pages 53-73.
    20. Ozili, Peterson K, 2019. "Bank loan loss provisions, risk-taking and bank intangibles," MPRA Paper 90273, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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