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Narrative disclosure of intellectual capital: A “structurational” analysis

John C. Dumay (Discipline of Accounting, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)

Management Research News

ISSN: 0140-9174

Article publication date: 20 June 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the manner and impact of intellectual capital (IC) disclosure. To frame the discussion, elements of Giddens' “structuration” theory and narrative theory are used to analyse change from within an organisation.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a case study approach, this paper explores the impact of the narrative disclosure of IC by an Australian public sector organisation, the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Lands (Lands), which is the first Australian government organisation to externally disclose IC.

Findings

By taking a structuralist approach to analysing the narrative disclosure of IC this paper moved beyond attempting to quantify or identify the wealth created by IC, and thus account for IC. By investigating the narrative disclosure of IC, initially in the form of the IC statement as a supplement to the annual report, it was shown how at Lands the use of narrative became routinized in the activities of management. Thus narrative was no longer used to only provide understanding of the IC measures and the reasoning behind the use of IC, but to provide a mechanism that engendered further management action and subsequent organisational change.

Research limitations/implications

The limitation of this paper is that it provides a lone example of a particular organisation from which generalisations are not possible. But it is possible to extend this research, using the structuration framework, to other organisations that have engendered the use of narrative to disclose IC to both internal and external stakeholders. Doing so will further question the domination of “accounting” within the IC paradigm and provide additional insights that allows practitioners and academics to develop additional tools for understanding and utilising IC.

Originality/value

This paper investigates the manner and impact of IC disclosure from within an organisation by use of “structuration” and narrative theory to analyse change as a result of the implementation of IC practices.

Keywords

Citation

Dumay, J.C. (2008), "Narrative disclosure of intellectual capital: A “structurational” analysis", Management Research News, Vol. 31 No. 7, pp. 518-537. https://doi.org/10.1108/01409170810876080

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited