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Intellectual capital disclosure and academic rankings in European universities: Do they go hand in hand?

Isabel Brusca (Universidad de Zaragoza, Zaragoza, Spain)
Sandra Cohen (Athens University of Economics and Business, Athens, Greece)
Francesca Manes-Rossi (University of Napoli, Federico II, Napoli, Italy)
Giuseppe Nicolò (Università degli Studi di Salerno, Fisciano, Italy)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 2049-372X

Article publication date: 9 August 2019

Issue publication date: 9 August 2019




The purpose of this study is to compare of the way intellectual capital (IC) is disclosed in the websites of the universities in three European countries to assess the way universities decide to communicate IC to their stakeholders and identify potential patterns and trends. In addition, the relation between the level and the type of IC Web disclosure in universities and academic rankings as a proxy of performance is explored to reveal interrelations.


The study is based on a sample of 128 universities coming from Greece (22), Italy (58) and Spain (48). The websites of the universities are content-analysed to measure the level of IC disclosure. The IC disclosure metrics are then correlated with the academic rankings of the World Ranking.


While the level of IC disclosure among universities and among countries is not homogeneous, human capital and internal capital items are more heavily disclosed compared to external capital items in all three countries. In addition, larger universities in terms of number of students tend to disclose more on IC. Moreover, there is a positive correlation between the level of IC Web disclosure and the academic ranking that challenges the IC disclosure strategies followed by the universities.


The paper represents an innovative contribution to the existing literature as it investigates websites to assess the level of IC disclosure provided by universities in a comparative perspective. Furthermore, it analyses the relationship between the online IC disclosure and European universities’ academic rankings and provides evidence on the interaction between the IC disclosure and the ecosystem in which the universities operate contributing to the fourth stage of IC research.



Brusca, I., Cohen, S., Manes-Rossi, F. and Nicolò, G. (2019), "Intellectual capital disclosure and academic rankings in European universities: Do they go hand in hand?", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 28 No. 1, pp. 51-71.



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