Making sense of intellectual capital complexity

measuring through narrative

John Dumay, Suresh Cuganesan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose – Drawing on the concept of intellectual capital (IC) as a complex web of intangible resources, this paper seeks to outline a method for making sense of IC utilising narratives, numbers and visualisations. Design/methodology/approach – The paper details the use of organisational narratives to make sense of the complexity of IC and how it works within a firm. It then demonstrates how organisational interventions into IC might be prioritised and developed. Findings – The method is presented in the context within which it was developed, being a research project into how IC works within a division of a financial services company. In the project, divisional management was dissatisfied with its current financial and non-financial performance measures. As a result, it engaged with the researchers to identify how to make sense of IC, how IC created value and how this could be used to inform management interventions. Originality/value – The paper contributes to the literature on management accounting and IC by presenting a relatively novel method for: disentangling complex IC interactions at a point in time into its discoverable components, prioritising interventions, and revealing IC system dynamics when the method is repeated over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-49
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of human resource costing and accounting
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Intellectual capital
  • Measurement
  • Narratives

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