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Making sense of intellectual capital complexity: measuring through narrative

John Dumay (University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Suresh Cuganesan (Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)

Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting

ISSN: 1401-338X

Article publication date: 5 April 2011




Drawing on the concept of intellectual capital (IC) as a complex web of intangible resources, this paper seeks to outline a method for making sense of IC utilising narratives, numbers and visualisations.


The paper details the use of organisational narratives to make sense of the complexity of IC and how it works within a firm. It then demonstrates how organisational interventions into IC might be prioritised and developed.


The method is presented in the context within which it was developed, being a research project into how IC works within a division of a financial services company. In the project, divisional management was dissatisfied with its current financial and non‐financial performance measures. As a result, it engaged with the researchers to identify how to make sense of IC, how IC created value and how this could be used to inform management interventions.


The paper contributes to the literature on management accounting and IC by presenting a relatively novel method for: disentangling complex IC interactions at a point in time into its discoverable components, prioritising interventions, and revealing IC system dynamics when the method is repeated over time.



Dumay, J. and Cuganesan, S. (2011), "Making sense of intellectual capital complexity: measuring through narrative", Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 24-49.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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