Intellectual capital disclosure in integrated reporting: an impression management analysis

Gaia Melloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Citations (Scopus)


– Intellectual capital (IC) is fundamental to understanding how firms create value; however, current IC disclosure (ICD) has been described as inadequate due to the lack of an established IC framework and companies’ actual commitment to report IC information. The International Integrated Reporting Council aims to foster ICD by means of integrated reporting (IR); such a report should display how IC and other forms of capital (e.g. financial) contribute to value creation over time. Drawing on impression management (IM) studies, the purpose of this paper is to assess the quality of ICD offered in IR.

– A manual content analysis of all the reports available in the International Integrated Reporting Council web site is run considering both the content of ICD and specific linguistic attributes (evidence, time orientation and tone). In addition, the study tests the relationship between the positive ICD tone and specific characteristics that may incentive managers to manipulate their disclosure to determine whether firms use ICD to manage public perceptions of corporate behaviour.

– The results of the content analysis show that majority of ICD is focused on relational capital, with limited quantitative and forward-looking information. Additionally, compared to non-ICD, ICD is significantly more optimistic. Furthermore, the positive tone of ICD is significantly associated with declining performance, bigger size and higher level of intangibles supporting the use of ICD as an IM strategy.

– The research contributes to the literature offering evidence of the quality of the ICD offered in the IR and demonstrating that ICD offered in the IR is used by managers opportunistically to advance their image.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-680
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Intellectual Capital
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Intangibles
  • Disclosure quality
  • Intellectual capital
  • Impression management
  • Integrated reporting

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