The fall and rise of intellectual capital accounting: new prospects from the Big Data revolution

Matteo La Torre, Vida L. Botes*, John Dumay, Michele Antonio Rea, Elza Odendaal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: As Big Data is creating new underpinnings for organisations’ intellectual capital (IC) and knowledge management, this paper aims to analyse the implications of Big Data for IC accounting to provide new conceptual and practical insights about the future of IC accounting. 

Design/methodology/approach: Based on a conceptual framework informed by decision science theory, the authors explain the factors supporting Big Data’s value and review the academic literature and practical evidence to analyse the implications of Big Data for IC accounting.

Findings: In reflecting on Big Data’s ability to supply a new value for IC and its implications for IC accounting, the authors conclude that Big Data represents a new IC asset, and this represents a rationale for a renewed wave of interest in IC accounting. IC accounting can contribute to understand the determinants of Big Data’s value, such as data quality, security and privacy issues, data visualisation and users’ interaction. In doing so, IC measurement, reporting and auditing need to keep focusing on how human capital and organisational and technical processes (structural capital) can unlock or even obstruct Big Data’s value for IC.

Research limitations/implications: The topic of Big Data in IC and accounting research is in its Ṇinfancy; therefore, this paper acts at a normative level. While this represents a research limitation of the study, it is also a call for future empirical studies.

Practical implications: Once again, practitioners and researchers need to face the challenge of avoiding the trap of IC accountingisation to make IC accounting relevant for the Big Data revolution. Within the euphoric and utopian views of the Big Data revolution, this paper contributes to enriching awareness about the practical factors underpinning Big Data’s value for IC and foster the cognitive and behavioural dynamic between data, IC information and user interaction.

Social implications: The paper is relevant to prepares, users and auditors of financial statements.

Originality/value: This paper aims to instill a novel debate on Big Data into IC accounting research by providing new avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)381-399
Number of pages19
JournalMeditari Accountancy Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2018


  • Big Data
  • Data quality
  • Data security
  • Intellectual capital
  • Intellectual capital accounting
  • Privacy
  • Visualisation


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