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The voluntary reporting of intellectual capital: Comparing evidence from Hong Kong and Australia

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to investigate the voluntary reporting of intellectual capital (IC) by listed companies in Australia and Hong Kong and to evaluate size, industry and time effects on IC disclosure levels. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study is an empirical one conducted in two stages. Stage one is an exploratory study of voluntary IC disclosure for the 20 largest listed Australian companies in 1998. Stage two, using 2002 data, examines voluntary disclosure of IC attributes for 50 listed entities in Australia and 100 in Hong Kong. Content analysis is used to collect data. Findings ‐ Levels of voluntary IC disclosure are found to be low and in qualitative rather than quantitative form in both locations. Disclosure level is positively related to company size, a finding that is consistent with the previous literature on voluntary reporting. Research limitations/implications ‐ External validity may be compromised somewhat by the relatively small sample size. Managers are not observed in the process of making decisions, so management intent is inferred. Practical implications ‐ Documenting variations in types of reporting and in reporting frequency enables a greater understanding of why some companies voluntarily report whilst others do not. Such an understanding holds the potential to guide policy-makers, creditors and investors in giving prescriptions to firms over whom they have control or with whom they have dealings. Originality/value ‐ This study is the first to comparatively examine the voluntary reporting of IC in a longitudinal setting using Australasian data.

Keywords: Annual reports; Australia; Data analysis; Disclosure; Hong Kong; Intellectual capital

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/14691930610661890

Publication date: April 1, 2006

mcb/250/2006/00000007/00000002/art00008
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