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Firm characteristics and intellectual capital disclosure by Australian companies

Rosalind H. Whiting (Department of Accountancy and Finance, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand)
James Woodcock (KPMG, Wellington, New Zealand)

Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting

ISSN: 1401-338X

Article publication date: 28 June 2011




This study seeks to examine the presence of voluntary intellectual capital disclosure (ICD) in Australian company reports and the influence of company characteristics (industry type, ownership concentration, listing age, leverage and auditor type) on ICD.


This is an empirical quantitative study that statistically tests a theoretically motivated explanatory model of ICD. ICD data were gathered from the annual reports of 70 Australian publicly listed firms using content analysis (CA).


Presence of ICD was low, with external capital being the most frequently disclosed category. Correlation and regression analysis demonstrated that companies that operate in high technology‐based or knowledge‐intensive industries, and companies with large Big Four auditing firms show more extensive ICD than those in other industries and without Big Four auditors. A company's ownership concentration, leverage level and listing age did not influence the occurrence of ICD.

Research limitations/implications

Data collection is limited to one year (2006) and only from annual reports.


This is the first Australian study to test the explanatory relationship between a large number of firm‐specific characteristics and ICD for a diverse group of industries. Rigorous manual CA is applied.



Whiting, R.H. and Woodcock, J. (2011), "Firm characteristics and intellectual capital disclosure by Australian companies", Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 102-126.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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