Communicating Intellectual Capital: Evidence from Social and Sustainability Reporting
Since the work of Guthrie & Petty (2000) several studies on intellectual capital (IC) reporting have been made to analyze the company disclosure process both public and private communication channels. Within public communication channels, company annual report is the most used document but in general it shows a low level of IC information. Other analyzed public channels are the initial public offering (IPO) prospectuses (Bukh et al. 2005; Cordazzo, 2007), the intellectual capital statements (Bukh et al., 2001; Mouritsen et al., 2001, 2002) and the web sites (Gerpott et al., 2008), all showing different level of IC information. The aim of this paper is to assess in depth the intellectual capital disclosure (ICD) communicated through social and sustainability reports in a sample of 37 Italian listed companies by a longitudinal content analysis (2005, 2006). IC disclosure (on human, organizational and relation capital) is analyzed in quantitative & qualitative, time dimension and financial & non financial terms in order to analyzed more in depth the ICD process. Findings show an overall increase in all categories of intellectual capital over the two years with a particular relevance for the organizational capital category. Overall the amount of ICD is higher when compared to the majority of previous studies based on annual report and it demonstrates the need to investigate more in depth a wide range of company reports to understand carefully the companies intellectual capital disclosure process and the possibility to integrate intellectual capital report and social and sustainability reporting in a single report.
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