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Structure of intellectual capital – an international comparison

Henri Inkinen (School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Aino Kianto (School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Mika Vanhala (School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)
Paavo Ritala (School of Business and Management, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Lappeenranta, Finland)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 19 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Academics and practitioners around the world have shown interest in what constitutes the relevant intellectual capital (IC) in firms. However, studies have largely neglected to examine whether IC has identical or different structural elements in various parts of the world. The purpose of this paper is to suggest that country-specific institutional structures may impact the perception of IC, and empirically analyse whether differences exist between five countries drawing on the institutional theory.

Design/methodology/approach

This study tests for the differences in the underlying categorizations of IC in a sample consisting of 708 firms across five countries. Confirmatory factor analysis and comparison of different possible IC models are conducted to empirically examine the IC structure.

Findings

The results demonstrate that IC has predominantly the same underlying elements across the examined countries. However, trust capital in Finland and renewal capital in Serbia are structurally different compared to other countries.

Research limitations/implications

Institutional theory and multinational corporate superculture can explain the similarity in the IC structures across countries. Specifically, globalized markets carry institutionalized rules, norms, and expectations for the participating firms; under the influence of this superculture, the firms begin to assimilate. Conversely, the differences suggest that some country- and culture-specific differences remain even during the transition to global markets.

Originality/value

This study is among the first to question the assumption that IC has identical structural elements across the world, and merges theories of IC and institutions to explain the possible origins of these differences.

Keywords

Citation

Inkinen, H., Kianto, A., Vanhala, M. and Ritala, P. (2017), "Structure of intellectual capital – an international comparison", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 1160-1183. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-11-2015-2291

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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