Lifting the lid on the use of content analysis to investigate intellectual capital disclosures

Vivien Beattie, Sarah Jane Thomson

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    289 Citations (Scopus)


    This methods paper highlights specific issues that arise in using content analysis to investigate intellectual capital (IC) disclosures. The use of content analysis in the IC context is debated through an analysis of prior studies and the use of an illustrative example (Next plc's 2004 annual report). It is concluded that the depth and breadth of the IC concept and the lack of common definitive language make it difficult to establish the extent and nature of disclosure currently provided. The range of choices available to researchers in terms of analysing and measuring IC disclosures further hinders interpretation and comparability. Transparency in the choices made is required. Shared meanings could be developed and the IC concept better understood through increased transparency in the categorisation of IC information, which in turn could further assist in the interpretation and comparison of findings across studies. © 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-163
    Number of pages35
    JournalAccounting Forum
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007


    • Content analysis
    • Corporate disclosure
    • Intellectual capital
    • Methods


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