Purpose: In order to understand value creation from IC disclosure, this paper aims to show how firms disclose the link between customer relationships and value creation. It considers the firms accounts of customer relationships as a reflection of potential for the firm.
Design/methodology/approach: The empirical corpus of this paper is the incidences in which ‘customer relationships’ are mentioned in (853) annual reports to get a broad picture of how customer relationships are presented building on an inductive approach to the data collected.
Findings: What emerged from the analysis was that the presentation of customer relationships from a functionalistic perspective can be distinguished into three categories with different aspects of value creation. Further, there is also an interpretation that leads to seeing the disclosure of customer relationships as a legitimacy-building practice that, however, need not contradict a functionalistic view.
Research limitations/implications: The investigation focus on a particular area of IC, i.e. customer relationship, and its relation with value creation. As the approach is inductive, what is a strength is also a weakness as it incorporates more interpretation of the researcher. The findings are based on data from Sweden and any further interpretation of the findings needs to be considered in that context.
Originality/value: The research studies content of IC disclosure with an inductive approach on a large sample allowing a deeper focus on value creation. It further focuses on the disclosure of customer relationships as a particular IC category and considers alternative views on this category.