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Intellectual capital disclosure: high-tech versus traditional sector companies

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this study is to compare the level of intellectual capital disclosure (ICD) of firms in the high technology and traditional sectors of the economy. Design/methodology/approach ‐ In order to provide a framework to evaluate the level of disclosure of the different categories of intellectual capital (IC), the author develops an IC model based on an integration of the resource-based view (RBV) of the firm, the knowledge management, and IC literature. The model is called the RBV IC model. Content analysis was conducted using the SEC Form 10-K annual reports of 143 high-technology companies (HTCs) and 141 traditional sector companies (TSCs) US publicly traded firms for fiscal year 2000 and 2004. The components of IC as delineated in the RBV IC model are the subject of the analysis with the frequency of disclosure being used as the measure of disclosure. Findings ‐ HTCs had a higher frequency of disclosure of customer capital, organizational capital, human capital, and intellectual property than TSCs. Regarding supplier capital, the data were inconclusive. HTCs had an overall higher level of ICD than TSCs both in fiscal years 2000 and 2004. Research limitations/implications ‐ The frequency of the use of words or phrases alone is used as the measure of the level of ICD. Originality/value ‐ This is the first study to compare the level of ICD of high tech and traditional sector US publicly traded companies. The results have significant implications for setting standards of disclosure in that it supports the argument that high-tech companies may be providing higher levels of ICD because of the failure (actual or perceived) of the traditional accounting model to provide value relevant information about a company's IC.
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Keywords: Disclosure; Intangible assets; Intellectual capital

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-10-17

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