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Discourses of transparency in the intellectual capital reporting debate: Moving from generic reporting models to management defined information

Christian Nielsen and Mona Toft Madsen

CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, 2009, vol. 20, issue 7, 847-854

Abstract: In the last decade, transparency has become a necessary mantra for both publicly listed companies and government institutions. Intellectual capital reporting is often related to this goal of enhancing the transparency of business and public institutions. In this paper we emphasize that a movement is seen in the intellectual capital reporting debate, which we argue can be approached as two different discourses of transparency, namely one discourse based on generic reporting versus a second discourse based on management driven information. In other words, one discourse highlights as much information to stakeholders as possible, but seems to be in the process of being substituted by another, which emphasizes reporting what is seen from the perspective of management, namely the “right” information, and only that. The argument for the latter discourse is that it will make intellectual capital reporting more transparent, because of users’ bounded rationality and other constraints such as time. This, however, has the implication that users of intellectual capital reporting may become victims of management's selected “right” information, by [Strathern, M. The tyranny of transparency. British Educational Research Journal 2000;26:310–32] designated as the “tyranny of transparency”. Also, we emphasize the problems of perceiving transparency as a goal and not a means.

Keywords: Transparency; Intellectual capital; Business reporting; Discourse analysis (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:eee:crpeac:v:20:y:2009:i:7:p:847-854