Voluntary disclosure and intellectual capital: how CEOs mobilise discretionary accounting narratives to account for value creation stemming from intellectual capital

Časopis: Journal of Applied Accounting Research

Volume, no: 22 , 4

ISSN: 0967-5426

DOI: 10.1108/JAAR-04-2020-0073

Stranice: 687-705

Link: https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JAAR-04-2020-0073/full/html

Purpose – This research aims to contribute to the current discussion led by international accounting bodies on intellectual capital narratives. Before setting a standard, a preliminary step is to highlight intellectual capital components’ sources of value. The objective of this exploratory paper is to contribute to the discussion by proposing a detailed description and taxonomy of intellectual capital based on an analysis of discretionary accounting narrative disclosures in CEO letters. Design/methodology/approach – To answer the research question, a computerised lexical content analysis was done of 241 letters from the CEOs of S&P Euro 350 companies addressed to shareholders. Findings – Beyond the required disclosures about balance sheet intangibles, this study brings to light discretionary narratives about human, digital, customer and environmental capital and their interactions. In particular, CEOs are promoting two new themes, environmental capital and digital capital, as major contributors to value creation. Research limitations/implications – The limitations of this study are inherent in the media studied, namely the CEOs’ letters to shareholders, which were written as part of the firms’ official communication. Practical implications – The main contribution of the research is a detailed description of the intellectual capital components that CEOs consider to be at the heart of their companies’ models to create value. Human and customer capital were already familiar under the previous classification, but CEOs present digital and environmental capital as areas of opportunity or risk in their discretionary narratives. Originality/value – The article contributes to the current international discussions on intellectual capital by focusing on discretionary accounting narratives. It seeks to provide guidelines concerning future standards in the current stage of intellectual capital research.
Ključne reči: Discretionary accounting narratives, Intangible capital, Intellectual capital disclosure, Content analysis, Standardisation, Environmental capital, Digital capital