Reﬂecting on the production of
intellectual capital visualisations
Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology,
Hawthorn, Australia, and
John C. Dumay
Discipline of Accounting, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
Purpose – The ﬁrst aim of this paper is to present the methods developed by one of the co-authors to
render visible the complexity of intellectual capital (IC). These were developed to make relationships
between IC elements and value creation accessible to managers seeking to act on IC. The second aim of
the paper is to explore the ability of visualisation techniques to inscribe the complexity of IC. This is
pursued through a process of reﬂecting on the experiences of “being involved” in the production of IC
Design/methodology/approach – The study details the methods utilised in a case study of a
shared service centre of a ﬁnancial services organisation and presents a reﬂective analysis using the
Latourian notion of inscriptions.
Findings – In conducting its reﬂective analysis, the paper traces the various translations undergone
by the inscriptions of IC, with the end result of these movements being a visual meta-narrative
connecting the various IC elements to one another as well as dimensions of IC value creation.
Originality/value – The paper presents a novel examination of visualisations of IC as might be used
within ﬁrms for the purposes of resource mobilisation and managerialist intervention.
Keywords Intellectual capital, Visual media, Financial services
Paper type Case study
Assessments of change, dynamics, and cause and effect are at the heart of thinking and
explanation. To understand is to know what cause provokes what effect, by what means, at
what rate. How then is such knowledge to be represented? (Tufte, 1997, p. 9, emphasis in
The provocative opening to Tufte (1997), as quoted above, embodies the raison d’e
for this paper. The domain we seek to investigate is that of intellectual capital (IC).
Speciﬁcally, we present and reﬂect on methods that produce visualisations of IC. These
methods emerged through a case study conducted by one of the co-authors aimed at
investigating how IC was related to organisational value creation in a ﬁnancial services
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The authors would like to thank James Guthrie, Samantha Warren, Jane Davison and the two
anonymous reviewers for their observations and valuable comments. The support of the case
study organisation is also acknowledged.
Production of IC
Received 1 March 2008
Revised 2 December 2008
Accepted 10 February 2009
Accounting, Auditing &
Vol. 22 No. 8, 2009
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited