Intangibles disclosure: A user-based approach to enhanced external financial reporting

  • S. Muehlenbrock

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis develops a framework for enhancing current financial reporting of intangibles related information in knowledge intensive industries informed by the particular needs and requirements of the users of such reports. Four financial statements user groups (investment fund managers, CFOs of companies, credit institutions and auditors) were interviewed to obtain an understanding of their views of the usefulness of current financial statements. Following these initial interviews, questionnaires were sent out and related interviews conducted to identify factors that would be useful for improving current financial reporting practice related to intangibles. These factors were used to build a new intangibles disclosure framework or ‘model’. This new ‘model’ was then validated with financial statements users and a representative of an accounting standards setter1 in respect of its acceptability and usefulness. This study also explored the question of appropriate methodology for examining and developing financial accounting theory. Financial accounting research is currently undertaken in the two different fields of normative and positive accounting theory. Both have different views on what is deemed as commonly acceptable research methodologies to contribute to current knowledge. Unfortunately, neither field supports the development of financial accounting standards based on qualitative empirical research methodologies founded on the views of users of such financial accounting standards. This thesis provides evidence for the need to establish a new branch of financial accounting research: conditional-normative accounting research. In addition, this thesis also provides a process by which this new branch of financial accounting research can be operationalised. This thesis contributes to the current knowledge in three ways: It proposes a new user-based intangibles disclosure framework model for knowledge intensive industries which was developed and validated based on qualitative empirical research methodology. It contributes to the establishment of a new branch of financial accounting theory which is referred to by Mattessich (1995) as conditional-normative accounting theory. The latter consists of financial accounting norms and policy recommendations developed through the application of qualitative empirical research methodologies. It provides a process by which the concept of conditional-normative accounting theory can be operationalised in research practice.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Brighton

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