Intellectual capital disclosure: a structured literature review

Benedetta Cuozzo*, John Dumay, Matteo Palmaccio, Rosa Lombardi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to provide an up-to-the-minute literature review of intellectual capital disclosure (ICD) to: identify the major themes developed within this research stream; investigate the evolution of the theory; and derive insights to guide future research agendas for the benefit of researchers and ICD users. Design/methodology/approach: Research articles from ten relevant journals for the 17-year period between 2000 and 2017 are categorised and analysed in a structured literature review (Massaro et al., 2016) to answer these three research questions. This study adds to a data set established by Guthrie et al. (2012) and presents the results in a consistent and comparable manner across the studies. Findings: A lack of significant innovation in the evolution of ICD indicates that this research stream may have been a victim of its own success (Dumay and Guthrie, 2017). Stuck in overview mode, studies continue to fixate on general issues, largely drawing their analysis from the corporate reports of publicly listed companies in Europe. Very few studies examine ICD in the USA and beyond, nor do they drill down to organisational level to examine ICD in practice. Practical implications: We academics need to leave our ivory towers and base future research on how organisations, in different contexts, using different languages, harness intangible assets to create value. Without discouraging content analysis from corporate reports, we need to be more innovative in searching for IC from the rich variety of media resources modern corporate communication channels offer, and recognise that, while we are all working towards the same thing, we may not be using the same language to get there. Originality/value: Despite extending previous work, this study highlights some of the new insights revealed from ICD research, especially over the last two years. The findings regarding differing use of terminology across continents, a general decline in published research due to lack of interest or new ground to cover, and zero evidence for a “groundswell” of IC disclosures by listed companies should motivate further reading in many researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-28
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Intellectual Capital
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • IC research
  • Intellectual capital disclosure
  • Structured literature review


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