Intellectual capital disclosure in Swedish "knowledge companies" : A study on how intellectual capital is accounted for in three Swedish knowledge companies

University essay from Mälardalens högskola/Akademin för hållbar samhälls- och teknikutveckling; Mälardalens högskola/Akademin för hållbar samhälls- och teknikutveckling

Abstract:

Title: Intellectual capital disclosure in Swedish "knowledge companies"

- a study on how intellectual capital is accounting for in three Swedish knowledge companies

Problem: An organization has two kinds of assets; material assets and immaterial assets, also known as intellectual capital. There are straight forward ways of establishing the value of the material assets and stakeholders can easily find this information in either the income statement or the balance sheet. However modern businesses are increasingly reliant on their immaterial assets in order to generate value, since there is no equivalent to the balance sheet for immaterial assets - where do stakeholders find information on the subject, and how do the businesses themselves value intellectual capital?

Purpose: In order to understand where and how companies disclose and value their intellectual capital, this thesis has analyzed the annual reports of three leading Swedish knowledge-companies from a two year period, and interviews have been conducted with key individuals at said companies.

Methodology: Both qualitative and quantitative methods were used in this study. The qualitative part consists of primary data which was gathered through a questionnaire that was collected by e-mail, and secondary data was gathered from websites and financial reports of the selected companies. Qualitative data was gathered through the questionnaires alone, and processed through Spearman’s coefficient of rank correlation.

Conclusion: The chosen companies have chosen not to disclose much of their intellectual capital in their annual reports, one company even removing the subsection intellectual capital from their annual report. It was found that human capital is the most valued component on intellectual capital. We have found that the selected companies do not use any specific method to valuate their intellectual capital.

Keywords: intellectual capital, knowledge-company, annual report, disclosure, Sweden

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