A longitudinal examination of intellectual capital reporting in Marks & Spencer annual reports, 1978-2008

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Abstract

This paper examines the intellectual capital content of Marks & Spencer annual reports over a 31 year period from 1978 to 2008 using a content analysis instrument. Motivated by the gap among prior studies in respect of longitudinal samples, the paper also sets out to note the ways in which the annual report has changed over the three decades in response to the supposed change from the assumption that fixed assets and operations were the key driver of value creation to a belief that knowledge and the stock of intellectual assets had become a more powerful explanation of value-added. The paper finds an overall increase in intellectual capital reporting over the 31 years but notes a particular increase in relational capital reporting and a re-ordering of sub-categories over time. Narrative (as opposed to quantitative) reporting has increased and 'factual' (as opposed to opinion and judgement) reporting has decreased. The paper concludes that annual report narratives have reflected a wider change in the market for information among investors and other stakeholders. Whilst the exact nature of these market changes was beyond the scope of this paper, it is concluded that changing patterns of ICR reflect the increased complexity of the messages being conveyed in voluntary reporting. The increased reliance on IC in value creation has, we argue, created a need for narrative of less factual certainty and with more ambiguity and circumspection in describing increasingly complex knowledge assets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-70
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Accounting Review
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010

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Intellectual capital
Annual reports
Value creation
Content analysis
Stakeholders
Investors
Knowledge assets
Intellectual assets
Fixed assets
Value added
Relational capital

Keywords

  • Accounting
  • Content analysis
  • Intellectual capital
  • Voluntary disclosure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting

Cite this

A longitudinal examination of intellectual capital reporting in Marks & Spencer annual reports, 1978-2008. / Campbell, David; Che Abdul Rahman, Mara Ridhuan.

In: British Accounting Review, Vol. 42, No. 1, 03.2010, p. 56-70.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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