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Effects of voluntary intellectual capital disclosure for disclosing firms: A structured literature review

Ute Vanini (Faculty of Business Management, University of Applied Sciences Kiel, Kiel, Germany)
Robert Rieg (Faculty of Business, Aalen University, Aalen, Germany)

Journal of Applied Accounting Research

ISSN: 0967-5426

Article publication date: 24 June 2019




Mandatory disclosure of a firm’s intellectual capital (IC) is restricted by accounting regulations, leading companies to use voluntary disclosure to inform their stakeholders about their IC. However, voluntary IC disclosure (ICD) is costly and may lead to a leak of knowledge. Consequently, firms should only engage in voluntary ICD if it really reduces information asymmetries and leads to reduced cost of capital or a better reputation. The purpose of this paper is to review, integrate and critically discuss the results of studies examining various effects of voluntary ICD.


The authors use a structured literature review approach.


The results mainly support the expected positive effects of voluntary ICD on monetary value for disclosing firms, e.g. lower cost of capital, higher firm value or increased analysts’ following. Nevertheless, the studies mainly represent second stage IC research.

Research limitations/implications

Additional studies concerning effects of voluntary ICD outside capital markets are recommended. Future studies should be based on an improved study design concerning the theoretical underpinning and concept of value relevance, sufficient sample sizes and alternative sources of ICD.

Practical implications

Due to positive monetary effects, firms should engage in voluntary ICD.


The paper reviews and integrates the state-of-the-art of empirical research of effects of voluntary ICD. It contributes to and enlarges the debate concerning the value relevance of voluntary ICD with respect to the different stages of IC research.



Vanini, U. and Rieg, R. (2019), "Effects of voluntary intellectual capital disclosure for disclosing firms: A structured literature review", Journal of Applied Accounting Research, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 349-364.



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