Research studies

Problems of accounting measurement of intangible assets and intellectual capital: a case study


Prepared by the researcher :  Abu Hassanein Mohsen Gouda. Imam Al-Kadhum College (IKC)

Democratic Arabic Center

Journal of Afro-Asian Studies : Eighteenth Issue – August 2023

A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin

Nationales ISSN-Zentrum für Deutschland
ISSN  2628-6475
Journal of Afro-Asian Studies

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Intangible Assets Investment Assets Investment Assets Ascent Constitutive AMSC (intellectual capital) is widely considered of business organizations (90%) of the total market value of the business Was the industrial (physical) capital tangible, governed by fundamentals and theories, controlled by accounting records, and re-evaluated annually by specific criteria? How is it for intellectual capital, which is characterized as ethereal and intangible,  making it difficult to apply theories, Accounting procedures it, and researchers concluded that there are problems facing the measurement of intangible assets and intellectual capital process, requiring a recommendation on the intellectual.


    Intangible assets are important for many establishments in most industrial sectors such as patents, and service sectors such as computer software development and these assets consist of two types; the first type includes assets that can be distinguished independently such as copyright, and the second type represents those assets that cannot be distinguished from the facility or from some of them or even other assets such as the expertise and skills of employees, sales services and administrative efficiency.

The importance of this type of asset has encouraged many stakeholders in the accounting profession in all countries (such as the US Financial Accounting Standards Board, the Auditing Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Committee) to develop standards that specifically address topics related to intangible assets, but the nature of these assets involves many problems (such as measurement) for accountants, who seek fair representation of all assets on the financial statements. Either for (Intellectual Capital) of the basic resources of modern companies in the light of the knowledge economy, which is another form of capital recognized in the new economy and the intellectual capital of the company consists of the following basic components: structural capital, human capital and customer capital.

     This research represents a critical and analytical study of intellectual capital, its components, divisions, methods of measurement and the foundations adopted in the measurement process, and it is also a serious attempt to critique those methods and identify their advantages and disadvantages for the purpose of determining the most objective and practical method or method for measuring intellectual capital in business companies and addressing the state of change in it over time.

     The study concluded that intellectual capital needs in-depth studies to solve the problems suffered by measurement methods, especially in the case of fluctuation in some indicators adopted to measure the subject of accounting treatments constrained him.

  Intangible assets

  Intangible assets represent one of the important resource elements of many establishments, as these assets are the main and important source of revenue generation for those establishments, for example, the brand and the company’s reputation represent, and therefore the consideration paid for obtaining the right to work is treated as an intangible asset and is characterized by Intangible assets with the following characteristics:

  1. It does not have a tangible physical presence but can be distinguished from other assets.
  2. Non-financial assets, which are non-cash items.
  3. Its useful life or useful period shall often extend for more than one period.
  4. It may originate internally or may be purchased from abroad.
  5. It is difficult to verify its value and the extent of its increase or decrease in the absence of an active market.

Common examples of intangible assets include:

– Goodwill

– Patents


-Trade name



– Customer List

-Computer Software

First:  intangible assets    

    It is a non-cash asset that is identifiable but has no physical existence, and two conditions must be available in the intangible asset controlled by the entity as a result of previous events such as purchase or internal development, and the entity is expected to obtain as a result of the acquisition or use of the asset economic benefits represented by future cash flows (Hamidat and Khadash, 2013: 281)

They are non-cash assets, which have no physical existence and have the ability to provide the enterprise with services or benefits in the future and to which the enterprise has acquired the right as a result of events that occurred or operations that took place in the past. An intangible asset may be independently recognizable (segregated from the rest of the assets), examples of which are incorporation costs, trademarks, copyrights, industrial designs and designs, and franchises and licenses. An intangible asset may be independently indistinguishable, such as reputation, managerial skills and competencies, and other factors that makeup fame (Abdali, 2009: 3).

  An intangible asset is an identifiable and non-monetary asset without tangible material that is held for use in the production or supply of goods or services, for leasing it to others or for administrative purposes : ( IAS,2007 38 )

  1. Controlled by the establishment of previous.
  2. It is expected that future economic benefits will flow from it to the enterprise.

Second: Recognition and Measurement                              

International Accounting Standard (38) requires an entity to recognize an intangible asset (to the extent of its cost) only in the following cases:

  1. The expected future economic benefits associated with the asset are likely to flow to the enterprise.
  2. It is possible to measure the cost of the asset reliably.

  the above two conditions, its costs are considered a revenue expense that the income statement and the economic benefits of the enterprise are achieved by selling the goods, providing services or reducing costs, and the enterprise’s control over the intangible asset is essential to achieve the first condition above for the recognition of intangible assets. Customer loyalty as an intangible asset since the facility has no control

to prevent workers or employees from leaving their work, and cannot force customers to continue to buy from the facility. (Hamidat and Khadash, 2013: 282)

Third: Initial Recognition

  such as through separate purchases, acquisitions as part of a business merger, government grant, self-development by the same entity such as goodwill, or through asset swaps. Note that an intangible asset cannot be recognized independently in the event that it is purchased with a group of assets and the entity is unable to identify and isolate it from other assets, as it is treated in such a case as part of goodwill. (Hamidat and Khadash, 2013: 282)

The cost of intangible assets is measured under International Accounting Standard No. (38) entitled “Intangible Assets” as follows: (Despres & Chanvel, 2000, 317).

Intangible assets initially  :

– Purchase price including any import duties and non-refundable purchase taxes, minus trade discounts

– Costs directly related to the preparation of the asset for its intended use, such as employee benefits, professional fees, and costs of examining and testing the integrity of the asset’s performance.

(b) There are costs that are not considered part of the cost of an intangible asset, and are considered expenses when incurred, including:

– Additional costs  in future payments, so the asset is recorded at its cash price or price within the normal terms of payment. What is paid in excess of that is recorded as financing costs during the financing period are included in the income statement.

– Advertising expenses, including large advertising campaigns.

–   working in a new location or in new ways, such as training costs.

– Administrative costs.

– Costs incurred in the period when the asset is ready for use.

– Initial operating losses, such as losses resulting from the introduction of the asset’s output in limited quantities at the beginning of the asset’s operation.

A- Owning a merger:

  occurs, by one company of another company, where the assets or liabilities of the purchased company are transferred to the purchasing company and the existence of the purchasing company ends, in such a case, of the purchasing company, may include the following : (IASs 38)

  1. Intangible assets defined and identified, such as the existence of a patent, copyright or trademark with the purchasing company, and the transfer of control over them to the purchasing company and recognized at fair value thereof at the date of purchase as required by IFRS 1 “Business Merger”
  2. Goodwill: which represents the increase in the cost of purchase paid by the purchasing company over the fair value of the net assets purchased, and

 Net Assets = Fair Value of Assets – Fair Value of Liabilities

  Intellectual capital

      The growing role of knowledge as a human unit of wealth based on creative abilities, experiences, skills and the abilities of individuals to generate new knowledge, innovation and creativity that turns into application to satisfy a new human need showed the process of generating new knowledge into the spotlight widely and with great focus This labor generated the concept of intellectual capital and interest in it on a large scale because it has become a very high percentage of the total value of business organizations up to (90%) of the total market value.

 If the industrial capital (physical) tangible governed by the foundations and theories and controlled by records and accounting procedures and re-evaluated annually specific standards how is it for intellectual capital, which is characterized as ethereal intangible, which makes it difficult to apply theories, foundations and accounting procedures on it if the market value of Microsoft (Microsoft) estimated at (115) billion US dollars constitutes physical capital (Tangible Assets) of which (10%) only and the rest is intellectual capital or Assets ) The question here is what the company’s management should do to maintain the market value of intellectual capital. (Joseph, 2005: 5)

First: The concept of intellectual capital               


     Many names may be used today to denote intellectual capital, including knowledge capital, intangible capital or intangible assets, so what is intellectual capital?

  • OECD defines intellectual capital as the economic value of two categories of intangible assets: organizational (structural) capital and human capital. Intellectual capital is defined as material – intellectual knowledge, information, intellectual property, and expertise that can be put into use to create wealth. (Stewart, 2001, 31)
  • It is defined as the experiences of the company’s employees, the company’s own consideration and intellectual property The authors believe that intellectual capital cannot be valued because it is the type of asset that can be used by more than one company and in more than one way at the same time. (Awad & Ghaziri, 2004, 17)
  • It is known that the intellectual capital belongs to the intellectual assets of the enterprise, on the basis of which the enterprise obtains legal protection. (Despres & Chanvel, 2000, 317)

The authors add that intellectual capital is based on the idea that when knowledge reaches a coherent and tangible level in which human interaction is naturally continuous and accurately described, what appears to be an indivisible cognitive privilege may make it divisible and fragmentable and what may seem apparent from its discovered nature makes it innovation and creativity.

    The above definitions are based mainly on human knowledge, human creativity, experience and skills that are put into use to create added value, so intellectual capital is related to the creative abilities possessed by employees in a company that can be put into practice. This indicates that the generator of intellectual capital is the human being working in the company and that this process does not stop at a certain limit, especially in knowledge companies.

2-Benefits of paying attention to intellectual capital:

The importance of intellectual capital emerges from the fact that it represents in itself a competitive advantage for the organization, especially since organizations compete today on the basis of knowledge, information and skills that they have, so interest in it is an inevitable issue imposed by the nature of the contemporary scientific and technological challenge and there are many benefits that any organization can reap through attention to intellectual capital, because it leads to the following (Al-Shakarji and Mahmoud, 2010:  8 ):

– Increase creative ability.

– Dazzle and attract customers and enhance their loyalty.

– Enhance time competitiveness by introducing more new or advanced products, and reduce the time between each innovation and the next.

– Reduce costs and the possibility of selling at competitive prices.

– Improve productivity.

– Enhancing competitiveness.

Second: Divisions and Components of Intellectual Capital

        One of the basic tasks of knowledge management in business organizations is to identify, measure, evaluate, maintain and develop the intellectual capital of the organization. The intellectual capital has become an important variable with a significant impact on the success or failure of the business organization, especially the cognitive ones, as this is reflected in the value of the organization (company) market and perhaps this prompted those concerned to pay increasing interest in intellectual capital.

       And the divisions and components of intellectual capital and its measurement, and these divisions include the following:

  1. Divisions (Despres & Channvel): The authors believe that intellectual capital consists of four components and what interacts with them in order to create value, and these elements are: (Despres & Chanvel, 2000, 319)
  2. Human Capital: refers to the human resources of the company, including knowledge, the secret of manufacture, which can be converted into value. This is found in individuals, the systems, rules and organizational procedures used by the company.
  3. Structural Capital: This refers to the company’s infrastructure facilities.
  4. (Business Assets): It is the structural capital of the company that is used to create value through its business operations such as operations facilities and distribution network.
  5. Intellectual assets: These belong to the intellectual assets of the company, under which the company needs legal protection
  6. Division (Mckenzie & Winkelen, 2004, 236): according to the following equations to illustrate its division of the components of intellectual capital.

Intellectual Capital = Human Capital + Structural Capital

Intellectual capital = human capital + structural capital, where:

Structural Capital = Customer Capital + Organizational Capital

Structural capital = customer capital + organizational capital, where

Organizational Capital = Innovation Capital + Process Capital

Organizational capital = innovative capital + process capital, where:

Innovation Capital = Intellectual Property + Intangible Assets

Since this division is more common, we will deal with it in some detail and at length as follows: (Joseph, 2005: 15)

  1. Structural Capital: It is the one that makes the physical existence of the company and its book value under accounting procedures and restrictions, the intellectual capital in return is the one that makes the company’s market value and makes its position and reputation. If structural capital creates its explicit knowledge that is usually found in the structures, systems and procedures of the company, it represents all the values of the company that it trades internally.
  2. (Human Capital): It is the knowledge possessed and generated by employees, such as, skills, experiences, innovations, improvement and development processes.

     Edvinson & Malone (1997,165) defined human capital as the sum of the skills, experience, and knowledge of a company’s employees. As an example, the human capital of (IBM), for example, consists of systematic methods of software development, project management tools, development rules for engineers, analysts and programmers, in addition to sales management methods, product specifications, training courses and marketing databases.

      The theory and foundations of human capital have evolved in the sixties and are based on the fact that individuals in the company are the source of maximizing its wealth (Wealth Maximizers) and thus this theory drew attention intensively towards highly experienced and skilled workers as they represent human capital in the company, which plays a role in achieving positive results for the company no less than the role of material capital and that spending on their education and training is an investment that has a return and not a mysterious expense that has no return.

       There is no doubt that human capital is of great importance in the activity of any company, but the following aspects must be taken into account: (Youssef, 2005: 23)

  1. The importance of human capital does not lie in its inputs, but in its outputs, for example, higher education outputs are available to all competing companies, but the lesson is those companies that achieve unique advantages in terms of results when used.
  2. The quantitative dimension in the number of employees, years of service and others are not decisive dimensions in the distinction of the company’s work and superiority over other competing companies, but must search for talented people (Talented People) and perhaps this is the reason for the accuracy of the procedures for selecting new recruits in companies and there is a so-called process of attracting talent war (War For Talent).

The most important aspects that a company must pay attention to to develop its human capital are: (Sveiby, 2001, 22):

B – Attracting the best human talents: that is, the company has an effective system in the process of selection, testing and use of new employees and provide the foundations of learning and transfer of experience between successive generations of employees.

C- Enriching human capital by encouraging employees and motivating them to join training programs and share knowledge, acquire and distribute it within the company.

D- Maintaining distinguished employees: This is done by providing systems and methods of management based on trust and encouraging creativity and new ideas.

C – Creating a learning environment: Knowledge companies are characterized by their capital in the minds of workers who leave the company at the end of the day and who can be attracted by other competing companies and therefore must find foundations to strengthen and consolidate the rules of organizational loyalty.

3-Customer Capital: This is the value produced by the level of customer satisfaction, loyalty, suppliers and other third parties and what the company was able to build of distinguished relationships with these parties. These relationships that are built between the company and the elements of its external environment are of great importance and vital value based on the following:

A – The customers are the ones who pay the bill of the company because the first task of any company is to create, find or build its customers in the market and find the foundations of the distinguished relationship with them.

B – The loyalty gained by the company good relationship with its customers achieves an increase in the return as studies indicate that the customer’s return to buy the company’s products by (5%) increases the company’s profits by not less than (25%).

Third: Measuring Intellectual Capital

       There are great efforts being made to develop measures and indicators that can be relied upon to measure and evaluate intellectual capital at the level of companies, and despite the tangible progress that has occurred in this area, there is still a space of disagreement between specialists with regard to these standards, and this indicates the continued need for further development and improvement of these standards and we can indicate the state of increased interest in this through the following indicators:  (Edvinson & Malone,1997,147)

  1. The large number of ongoing attempts to measure intellectual capital in companies, the most prominent of which was the annual report issued by the Swedish company (Skandia) to measure and evaluate the components of its intellectual capital.
  2. Increasing interest and recognition of the real (market) value of the intellectual capital of companies despite the inadequacy of accounting measurement and evaluation methods and traditional financial indicators.
  3. Increased recognition of the fundamental role that intellectual capital plays in the overall performance of the company in terms of material results or market competition

    Despite all that, there are many companies still evaluating their intellectual assets in the traditional way used to evaluate physical assets, and this is confirmed by a study by the Canadian Association of Management Accountants.

(CMA) Therefore, the association presented a study to measure and evaluate intellectual capital in companies that included the most important indicators: (Stewart, 2001, 50)

  • Number of new products
  • Number of new customers
  • Success rate measured in monetary terms
  • The percentage of increase in business customers (companies)
  • Productivity Guide
  • Traditional quality indicators
  • ISO and customer satisfaction level
  • Problems of measurement of intellectual capital and intangible assets

      There is no doubt that the measurement and evaluation of human capital and intangible assets (Intangibles) is the most important area during the past few years, and this matter is no longer at the level of companies or economic sectors, but also on countries and nations, companies have been interested in this area and are still full of contributions of researchers and consultants, and countries have become interested in their intellectual capital, and this is what was revealed by the study of Malharta (Y. Malharta), which carried the title (Measuring the assets of knowledge of nations),  Carl E. Sveiby counted a method for measuring human capital or intangibles into four groups: (Kurdish, 2015: 5).

First: the method of market capitalization (value method – marketing / book).

Second: The method of return on assets.

Third: The method of direct capital.

Fourth: the method of weighted grade cards.

       Despite the importance of these diverse methods, researchers believe that despite the importance of these diverse methods in providing serious attempts to understand intellectual capital and its components and the formation of a strong base of justifications in order to include it in financial analysis and evaluation and then enter it into the measurement and accounting registration, these methods still need more rooting on the one hand and more response to the financial and accounting conditions in the calculation of intellectual assets, especially with regard to the stability of value and accuracy of evaluation on the other hand and tries to provide a model for measuring and evaluating the head of Money is accustomed to identifying the components of intellectual capital after classifying these components into two categories: (Ahmed et al., 2012: 59)

  1. Intellectual Assets: which are determined by the components of the capital that have been approved and calculated financially and accounting, as is the case in patents, trademark, copyright, designs and row names (Domain Names). This is what represents intellectual capital as a specific asset or value.
  2. Intellectual Resources: It is related to the components of uncalculated capital, as in the case of tacit knowledge, relationships, skills and experiences, innovative ability, and these include the components of intellectual capital that are not computerized in financial and accounting terms. Intellectual capital is represented as a flow that determines the quality of the company’s operations and affects the results of its business.

      Because the market value, which represents the value of the company in the market according to the value achieved by the company’s share, is a real and realistic value, the model will be relied upon as a financial expression of the value of the company and because the value of intellectual capital can take the value of the company, which in turn represents the difference between market value and book value. And because the book value includes two types of assets:

First: Tangible assets: It includes all tangible financial assets (land, buildings, machinery, tools, etc.).

Second: Intangible assets (intellectual assets): It includes computerized assets financially and accounting, represented by trademark, patents, licenses, copyrights, designs, names of varieties). (Al-Hayali, 2004: 306)

     Based on these determinations, the value of the company can be determined by market value, i.e.: CV = MV

where: CV = Company Value

MV = Market Cap

The book value is determined as follows: BV = TA + IA

Whereas: TA = tangible assets (physical and financial)

IA = Intangible Assets

In this context, we can determine intellectual capital in its two basic dimensions (intellectual assets and intellectual resources) according to the following model: (IC = F (IA1 + IA2 + …+ IAn) + (IR1 + IR2 + … + IRm)

Whereas: IC = Intellectual Capital

(IA1 + IA2 + …. + IAn) = intellectual assets calculated financially and accounting, and the number of paragraphs recorded in the financial and accounting records determines the number of variables (1, 2, 3, … , n).

( IR1 + IR2 + …. + IRn ) = Uncalculated intellectual resources It includes all the elements of intellectual capital that have not turned into calculated intellectual assets, and by the number of these paragraphs of value the number of variables is determined (1, 2, 3, … m) We have identified these variables with the following resources: tacit knowledge, skills and experience, relationships, and innovative ability.

     Because the variables of intellectual assets (IAn) are calculated and specified in the budget, so it is the intellectual resources (IRn) that need great efforts in order to identify them, and this requires: (Dweik and Al-Nabtiti, 2014: 26)

  1. Determine the value of each of the intellectual resources: This can be done in the light of the management experience and capabilities embodied in the company’s business.
  2. Determine the relative importance of each resource: This can be determined in light of the nature of the company and the extent to which it relies on knowledge as a basic resource, taking into account that companies can be classified into: pure knowledge companies (such as consulting, universities), knowledge-intensive companies (such as hospitals and banks) in addition to industries (pharmaceutical and chemical) and traditional physical companies that need knowledge to a lesser extent. This gradation from the most knowledge-based company to the least knowledge-based indicates that the value of intellectual resources in the former has increased and the latter has declined significantly.
  3. Overcome the main problems that limit the ability to determine the value of these resources and their overlap with other resources.

Study hypothesis: The research was based on the hypothesis that: there are accounting problems between intellectual capital, intangible assets, and the concepts of accounting identification and measurement

  The practical side of the study:

     The opinions of a number of accountants were surveyed regarding the problems of accounting measurement of intellectual capital and intangible assets in order to achieve many goals, including those related to prior knowledge of intellectual capital and intangible assets, including those related to measurement problems, and the results of those opinions show the following:

Table (1) represents the distribution of the study sample

Iteration Ratio section
32 74.4% accounting
5 11.6% Finance & Banking
3 7% economy
3 7% Business Administration
43 100% Total

We note from the previous table that the largest percentage of the study sample is from the accounting specialization holder, equivalent to 74.4%, and 11.6% of them are from the finance and banking major, and 7% of the sample for each of the economics and business administration majors, as such specializations correspond to the tasks of the accounting measurement process.

  • Analysis of results and hypothesis testing:

The arithmetic mean and standard deviation were extracted to describe the answers of the research sample, where the results were summarized in the following table:

Standard deviation Arithmetic mean Variables
First: Human Capital and Intangible Assets:
0.949 3.837 The organization encourages the participation of employees in decision-making and building development plans
0.988 4.023 The Foundation encourages the practice of teamwork methods and the dedication of the spirit of one team at work
1.068 3.838 The Foundation works to invest the capabilities of its employees and sharpen their energies efficiently and effectively.
0.869 4.237 The organization implements effective training programs to develop the skills and capabilities of employees on an ongoing basis.
0.833 4.139 The organization provides employees with the right environment for creativity and innovation
1.124 3.698 The organization adopts an organizational structure that helps employees with the flow of their work
Second: Structural Capital and Intangible Assets:
1.014 3.861 The institution develops its organizational structure in a manner commensurate with the administrative efficiency in the work environment
0.958 3.814 The organizational structure of the organization ensures the flow of knowledge necessary for all administrative levels
1.297 3.558 The Foundation is constantly developing and updating information systems and databases. Large
1.118 3.584 The Foundation provides integrated databases for different departments and units
0.979 3.744 The institution is keen on the continuous development of administrative processes in a way that achieves outstanding performance
1.029 3.581 The administrative processes in the organization are flexible enough to achieve the desired goals.
Third: Customer Capital and Intangible Assets:
1.119 3.442 The Foundation works to gain the trust and acceptance of the beneficiaries of its services to obtain fame
1.049 3.605 There are clear mechanisms for the institution to follow up on observations and complaints related to beneficiary service operations and seek to resolve them
1.085 3.674 The Foundation makes alliances and agreements with relevant civil society institutions in order to develop the work
1.031 3.721 The Foundation is keen to take into account the economic conditions of the community when providing its services to the beneficiaries
1.037 3.465 The Foundation is keen on equality between all when providing its services to the beneficiaries
1.297 3.558 The organization is interested in developing and encouraging positive relationships between employees
0.869 4.237 The Foundation supports participation in conferences that contribute to the acquisition of new knowledge.
0.869 3,757 Total Ferries

Table (2) shows the arithmetic means and standard deviations

Based on the results contained in Table (2), we found that the relationship between intellectual capital and intangible assets and between the processes of identification and measurement in the financial statements published by companies listed in the capital markets, and this result is supported by the arithmetic averages of the variables of the hypothesis under test.

Table (3) Hypothesis Testing

T Calculated  T Tabular SIG The result of the hypothesis R R2
 11,346  2,018  0,000 acceptance  0,87  0,758

To reinforce the aforementioned results, a simple regression test has been used, and we find from our reading of the computer results in the previous table that the value of (calculated T = 11.346) is greater than its tabular value, and since the decision rule is: accept the hypothesis if the calculated value is less than the tabular value, and this means that there is a strong relationship (R = 0.871) between intellectual capital and intangible assets and the concepts of identification and measurement of them in capital markets.

  • The end

  Conclusions: At the end of this study, the concept of intangible assets and human capital was identified and classified, and it turned out that intellectual capital is the main pillar for building economic progress in general and the success of organizations in particular, while the real capital owned by organizations is intellectual capital and is represented in knowledge that can be converted into value, either decisions related to intellectual capital are strategic decisions because they are a means or tool to achieve the goals of the organization,  Knowledge asset management is a powerful tool for management, and it has also become clear that there are problems with measuring intangible assets and intellectual capital.

  Recommendations: Therefore, attention to intangible assets is required as they are important for international companies, especially the fame of the shop and the patent and the exploitation of resources and competencies well, and the synthesis between them in an effective manner led to the establishment of decisive competitive advantages and a high degree, and the need to pay attention to the main axis in the thought of the new management, is to create competitive advantage and that the management of intellectual capital effectively is the pillar and pillar of this advantage and the organization’s choice of a set of roles for its intellectual capital corresponds to the type of organization itself, and its vision For themselves, and the strategy they choose, organizations should develop a strategic plan to measure intangible assets and intellectual capital.


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