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Italian annual intellectual capital disclosure: An empirical analysis

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In recent years a world-wide debate has emerged on the future of business reporting. There is growing agreement that traditional financial reporting is inadequate in meeting with the information needs of stakeholders, particularly in a knowledge economy characterised by a rapidly emerging emphasis on intellectual capital (IC). This study examines voluntary intellectual capital disclosure (ICD) provided by listed Italian companies in annual reports from the year 2001. The study aims to answer two research questions namely: what is the amount and content of ICD; and what are the factors that influence different voluntary reporting behaviours. In relation to amount and content of information disclosed, the results are consistent with previous ICD studies showing extensive disclosure of external capital (in particular about "customers"). Regarding the factors that can explain different voluntary reporting practices, findings suggest that industry and size are not important in determining the content of information disclosed, however, as found in social and environmental disclosure (SED) studies, these factors are relevant in explaining the amount of information disclosed. In summary, this paper highlights the ICD practices of Italian listed companies by examining their annual reports, and compares these results with a number of previous national studies.
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Keywords: Disclosure; Intellectual Capital; Stakeholders

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-10-29

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