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Examining the intellectual capital web reporting by Spanish universities

Yolanda Ramirez (Department of Business Administration, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Albacete, Spain)
Elena Merino (Department of Business Administration, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Ciudad Real, Spain)
Montserrat Manzaneque (Department of Business Administration, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Cuenca, Spain)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 22 March 2019

Issue publication date: 3 September 2019




The purpose of this paper is threefold: first, to know the views of university stakeholders concerning intellectual capital (IC) reporting; second, to examine the quality of voluntary IC disclosure by public Spanish universities on their websites; and third, to analyze some of the potential factors affecting this kind of disclosure.


The paper applies a content analysis and a survey. The content analysis was used to analyze the websites of 50 public Spanish universities in the year 2016, while the survey was submitted to all members of the Social Councils of Spanish public universities. Also, a regression analysis (ordinary least square model) is conducted to relate the disclosure index to its determinants.


The results of this study show that human capital was the most disclosed category with relational capital being the least frequently disclosed. However, the quality of structural capital disclosures was higher than relational and human capital. Moreover, the results show that size and university’s internationality affect IC disclosure in Spanish public universities.

Practical implications

This paper stimulates the debate between universities and policy-makers concerning the benefits related to IC reporting as a tool for addressing different stakeholders’ needs. In order to satisfy the information needs of university stakeholders, Spanish universities can be recommended to focus on reporting higher quality information on financial relations, students’ satisfaction, quality standard, work-related knowledge/know-how and collaboration between universities and other organizations such as firms, local government and society as a whole.


This research brings new expertise regarding IC disclosure in higher education and to reveal some of the possible determinants to improve this disclosure.



Ramirez, Y., Merino, E. and Manzaneque, M. (2019), "Examining the intellectual capital web reporting by Spanish universities", Online Information Review, Vol. 43 No. 5, pp. 775-798.



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