Ambiguities, Dualities and Metaphors in Intellectual Capital Research and Practice: Some Open Questions

24 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2012 Last revised: 26 Mar 2013

See all articles by Giuseppe Marzo

Giuseppe Marzo

University of Ferrara - Department of Economics and Management

Date Written: September 26, 2012

Abstract

Purpose– A recent stream of literature identifies the arising of a third stage in Intellectual Capital Accounting Research, which addresses the praxis of IC as it is implemented in organisations, rather than re-creating a static analysis of IC, as it is represented by contemporary measurement frameworks and their associated theory or theories. To such a development is also associated the necessity to abandon Grand Theory in favour of the analysis of what really happens inside the firm.

Despite of the importance of deeply analysing IC in the way it is managed and valued by specific firms, some perplexities nevertheless arise in the dualism between theory and practice.

The paper focuses on the ambiguities that the metaphorical use of the concept of capital can generate on both theoretical and practice-oriented research. Ambiguities here analysed refer to: 1) the understanding of IC as composed by apparently homogenous and separable units; 2) whose elements are assets; 3) which of are expected to be under the proprietorship of someone IC elements as assets; and 4) expressible in monetary terms in the balance sheet.

Design/methodology/approach– The paper is a conceptual paper.

Originality/value– The paper contributes to the extant literature by contributing at clarifying some of the differences between the traditional concept of capital and IC that the use of metaphor has covered. Since practice-oriented research cannot be completely theory-free, this goal is of course useful also for this kind of research.

Keywords: Intellectual Capital, metaphor, accounting theory, intangibles, intangible assets, theory of the firm

JEL Classification: D22, D80, M41, M2

Suggested Citation

Marzo, Giuseppe, Ambiguities, Dualities and Metaphors in Intellectual Capital Research and Practice: Some Open Questions (September 26, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2152684 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2152684

Giuseppe Marzo (Contact Author)

University of Ferrara - Department of Economics and Management ( email )

Via Voltapaletto, 11
Ferrara, 44100
Italy

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