Purpose – This paper investigates the intellectual capital (IC) ontology in an integrated reporting context to explore the function that integrated report (IR) preparers assign to IC elements and the role of integrated thinking in this process. Design/methodology/approach – Social ontology theory helps elucidate how an energy-sector company socially constructed an IC ontology in which IC is a core element of the value creation story told in the IR. The empirical analysis benefited from in-depth interviews with the corporate staff. Findings – The subjective nature of IC ontology emerges, in that IC’s function is defined during the very process of IR preparation. The intangible elements drive sustainability-oriented financial value creation according to the sustainability approach embraced by the company’s business model. Integrated thinking both facilitates this perspective on IC is shared among various departments of the company and provides a procedure for scrutinising what counts as IC in this integrated reporting context. Research limitations/implications – The research scope is limited to the IR preparation process. Further research could explore IC ontologies beyond this process. Originality/value – This study is the first to explore IC ontology empirically within an innovative integrated reporting context. It opens paths to further research on the relationships between IC and integrated thinking.

An intellectual capital ontology in an integrated reporting context

Stacchezzini, R.
;
Florio, C.;SPROVIERO, ALICE FRANCESCA;Corbella, S.
2019-01-01

Abstract

Purpose – This paper investigates the intellectual capital (IC) ontology in an integrated reporting context to explore the function that integrated report (IR) preparers assign to IC elements and the role of integrated thinking in this process. Design/methodology/approach – Social ontology theory helps elucidate how an energy-sector company socially constructed an IC ontology in which IC is a core element of the value creation story told in the IR. The empirical analysis benefited from in-depth interviews with the corporate staff. Findings – The subjective nature of IC ontology emerges, in that IC’s function is defined during the very process of IR preparation. The intangible elements drive sustainability-oriented financial value creation according to the sustainability approach embraced by the company’s business model. Integrated thinking both facilitates this perspective on IC is shared among various departments of the company and provides a procedure for scrutinising what counts as IC in this integrated reporting context. Research limitations/implications – The research scope is limited to the IR preparation process. Further research could explore IC ontologies beyond this process. Originality/value – This study is the first to explore IC ontology empirically within an innovative integrated reporting context. It opens paths to further research on the relationships between IC and integrated thinking.
2019
Intellectual capital, Integrated reporting, Integrated thinking, Social ontology
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11562/987525
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