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A methodology for investigating intellectual capital information in analyst reports

Subhash Abhayawansa (Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Australia)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 26 July 2011




The purpose of this paper is to describe a methodology that enables the generation of valid and reliable inferences on what and how intellectual capital (IC) information is communicated by sell‐side analysts in their research reports.


The method described in this paper involves content‐analysing initiating coverage analyst reports using a four‐dimensional IC coding framework and a detailed coding instrument, which is founded in the literature and indigenous to analyst reports. The paper explicates methodological decisions associated with content analysis: selecting the appropriate sampling unit; recording unit and measurement unit; developing the categorisation scheme and coding instrument; the need for test coding; the approach to data collection; and assessment of reliability and validity.


The methodology described is applied to a sample of analyst reports to illustrate inferences that can be drawn on what and how IC information is communicated in analyst reports.

Practical implications

Various practical issues arising in the application of content analysis method are discussed and a methodology for investigating IC communications by sell‐side analysts is described in this paper. This knowledge can be useful to future researchers conducting content‐analytic studies involving analyst reports in general, and IC communications in analyst reports in particular.


This paper extends the methodology developed previously to examine IC information in analyst reports. Although inspired and heavily influenced by these works, the methodology presented in this paper differs from theirs on several fronts. The paper introduces an alternative methodological paradigm to the study of analyst reports by emphasising them as a communication medium through which sell‐side analysts may pursue an agenda of their own. This is contrasted with the view held by several prior researchers that analyst reports just provide a record of analysts' thought processes.



Abhayawansa, S. (2011), "A methodology for investigating intellectual capital information in analyst reports", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 446-476.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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