Purpose – The paper aims to evaluate 141 publicly traded US firms in the traditional sectors of the economy to assess intellectual capital disclosure levels. Design/methodology/approach – Content analysis was conducted using 10‐K annual reports. Findings – It was found that traditional sector companies had a mean disclosure of intellectual capital of 24.227 in fiscal year 2000 and 27.709 in fiscal year 2004 ( t =3.68, df = 140, p =0.01). This supported the authors hypothesis that traditional sector companies would show an increase in the level of intellectual capital disclosure in 2004 as compared to 2000. Within the total sample, 78 companies increased their intellectual capital disclosure in fiscal year 2004 as compared to fiscal year 2000 ( z =−3.4756, p =0.01). Research limitations/implications – While the authors generated 121 phrases to tap the intellectual capital construct, there may be other word combinations given the differences in vocabulary between academia and the corporate world. Practical implications – These findings are particularly noteworthy because traditional sector companies are capital intensive and are reliant upon fixed assets which are reported on the balance sheet. This study suggests that even managers in the traditional sectors of the US economy are coming to recognize the growing importance of intellectual capital. Originality/value – This is the only longitudinal study to focus on intellectual capital disclosure of traditional firms in the USA, and this research was conducted over the time that the Financial Accounting Standards Board called for increased disclosure of intangible assets.
Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 21, 2008
Keywords: Intellectual capital; Disclosure; Intangible assets; Annual reports; United States of America
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