Utilising narrative to improve the relevance of intellectual capital

John Dumay, Robin Roslender

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    38 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose - The intellectual capital (IC) paradigm appears to be stuck at a crossroads of relevance. This paper aims to explore a way forward by examining the power of IC narratives. The prevailing use of narrative as an explanation for the reasons underpinning an organisation's management of IC is too narrow since narrative can have an emancipatory impact. This enhanced view of narrative allows the opportunity to explore how narrative may be used to understand and mobilise IC both inside and outside organisations and thus improve its relevance as a working discipline. Design/methodology/approach - An analysis of three case studies is presented, each offering different insights on the emancipatory potential of IC narratives. Findings - In order to progress IC beyond the crossroads of relevance, organisations should not blindly implement "frameworks" or "guidelines" that seek to measure and control IC as if it were any other asset (or liability). Instead organisations may benefit from considering how the development of IC fits with the strategic intent of the organisation and be proactive, thinking beyond "accepted" practice to create new insights through critical reflection. Originality/value - The paper is novel because it extends the understanding of how IC can be utilised by providing exemplars of a failed IC implementation as well as two cases where the implementation of IC has brought benefits. Thus, we see IC in action, rather than from a distance.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number17095535
    Pages (from-to)248-279
    Number of pages32
    JournalJournal of Accounting and Organizational Change
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2013


    • IC measurement
    • IC reporting
    • Intellectual capital
    • Narrative

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Accounting
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
    • Strategy and Management


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