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Determinants of intellectual capital disclosure: evidence from Australia

Alexander Brüggen (Department of Accounting & Information Management, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands)
Philip Vergauwen (Department of Accounting & Finance, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Hasselt University, Diepenbeek, Belgium)
Mai Dao (School of Accounting, College of Business Administration, Florida International University, Miami, Florida, USA)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 6 March 2009




The purpose of this paper is to examine determinants of the decision to disclose intellectual capital in annual reports.


The paper derives theoretical predictions from the previous literature and bases the study on archival data with a sample of 125 publicly listed Australian firms. The authors perform a content analysis of annual reports and complement the data with quantitative data from the sample firms.


The paper finds that industry type plays a key role as a determinant for the disclosure of intellectual property in annual reports. In addition, firm size is another determinant for intellectual disclosure of firms. In contrast with earlier studies and theoretical predictions of voluntary disclosure, however, the paper does not find any relationship between the level of information asymmetry and intellectual capital disclosure.

Research limitations/implications

One limitation refers to the content analysis. Analyzing the annual reports based on the specified list of IC‐related terms may not provide the whole picture as well as the IC disclosure practices. Despite these limitations, the study helps to understand better in general what kind of firms actually disclose information on intellectual capital.


In contrast with earlier studies the study uses significantly more observations, which makes the results more reliable and generalizable. Of further significance is the finding that information asymmetry – one of the main problems between investors and firms – is not driving the decision of firms to disclose information on intellectual capital.



Brüggen, A., Vergauwen, P. and Dao, M. (2009), "Determinants of intellectual capital disclosure: evidence from Australia", Management Decision, Vol. 47 No. 2, pp. 233-245.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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