Purpose ‐ The purpose of this work is to analyze, both from a theoretical and an empirical point of view, the significance of intangible assets in Spanish firms. Design/methodology/approach ‐ To perform this study Spanish firms listed in the Spanish Securities
and Exchange Commission (CNMV) were examined, in which intangible assets play a significant role in their business models. Using a questionnaire of 25 items, the final sample consisted of 39 firms (response rate =15.2 per cent) that could be used for the analyses. From the information thus
gathered, a statistical treatment was implemented using the SPSS computer program and the answers to each of the 25 items were analysed. An analysis of principal components in the question was also established, in order to summarize all 12 reasons proposed into just a few factors. Findings
‐ Among others, certain relevant conclusions about intangible assets indicated that: Spanish firms have moved from an industrial economy toward a knowledge-based economy; the disclosure of information about intangible assets in Spanish firms is still limited; some of the most relevant
intangible assets are customer relationships, employee experience, information technologies, brand image, procedures and systems; and the number of indicators used by Spanish firms is about 20. Research limitations/implications ‐ To select the sample for the questionnaire the
database of the CNMV was used. The final sample thus comprised 257 firms, but the authors finally received answers from 39 firms. Practical implications ‐ The paper is a very useful source of information for the Spanish firms and for investigators in this subject. Originality/value
‐ This paper is pioneering in the analysis of the situation of intangible assets in Spanish firms, as well as in determining some of the most relevant intangible assets used by those firms.