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Journal cover: Journal of Intellectual Capital

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Online from: 2000

Subject Area: Information and Knowledge Management

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Grand theories as barriers to using IC concepts

Document Information:
Title:Grand theories as barriers to using IC concepts
Author(s):John C. Dumay, (University of Sydney Business School, The University of Sydney, Darlington, Australia)
Citation:John C. Dumay, (2012) "Grand theories as barriers to using IC concepts", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 13 Iss: 1, pp.4 - 15
Keywords:Causal relationships, Differentiation theories of practice, Disclosure, Grand theory, Intellectual capital, Market-to-book ratios
Article type:Literature review
DOI:10.1108/14691931211196187 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Acknowledgements:The author would like to express many thanks to Mary Adams (i-Capital Advisors) and Bob Walker (University of Sydney, retired) for inspiring him to write this paper. The author also extends special thanks to Fiona Crawford for her enthusiastic editorial work and moral support.

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to answer the question “What are the barriers to the use of IC concepts?” by discussing and critiquing two contemporary grand theories about IC, being market-to-book ratios as a representation of IC and that disclosing IC leads to greater profitability.

Design/methodology/approach – The paper reviews contemporary IC literature and explores reasons why these grand theories of IC hinder its adoption.

Findings – The research finds that these grand theories mislead because they cannot be proven empirically. Therefore, managers should attempt to better understand the possible causal relationships between their people, processes and stakeholders (human, structural and relational capital) rather than adopting someone else's mousetrap.

Practical implications – In order to improve the use of IC concepts they should be examined as differentiation theories of practice that take into account the agent (people) as a unit of analysis, the actual practice of IC and the resultant changes within an organisation, rather than trying to achieve the impossible generalisations of IC grand theories. Researchers need to conduct more critical and performative research into IC rather than ostensive research.

Originality/value – Allows academics and practitioners to understand the barriers to implementing IC in organisations, potentially allowing for the development of better engineered IC practices rather than the development of additional IC models.

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