Does intellectual capital management ‘make a difference’? A critical case study application of structuration theory

John A. Tull, John C. Dumay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The central problem addressed in this paper is how intellectual capital (IC) management can progress beyond measurement and disclosure to provide a more dynamic interpretive scheme, in order to meet strategic management’s demand that IC should ‘make a difference’. Via a longitudinal case study, we observe an evolving use of narrative in disclosing IC and the manner and impacts of that change, set in the real example of a sophisticated organisation’s struggle to realise the potential value of managing IC amidst rapid business change and intense competition. In order to frame the discussion, elements of Giddens’ ‘structuration theory’ are critically applied to understand the recursiveness of the change that occurred from within the organisation. We report three main findings. First, we identify how IC narrative evolved in response to significant changes to the organisation’s operating environment, as reflected in changes to the framework adopted for managing IC despite continuing frustration in realising the envisaged benefits. Second, we establish the use of structuration theory as a tool to analyse the manner and impact of IC practices in future research. Third, we show how the stated aims of IC practice have not yet been fully realised by the studied organisation, thus providing a realistic example of the possible failings of IC practice due to inadequacies of the modalities employed by management to bring about recursive change and the need for a fuller assessment of projective agency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-526
Number of pages12
JournalElectronic journal of knowledge management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • intellectual capital
  • structuration
  • narrative
  • organisational change
  • strategic impact


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