For the most innovative companies this may means that analysts do not have enough information to work out their true market value.
Reforming this area should be a key part of any proposal to reinstate a requirement for an operating and financial review (OFR) section in company reports, reform of which was unexpectedly dropped by the Government two years ago.
A team of academics at Cass Business School at London’s City University analysed three unseen factors involved in innovation – often known as 'intangibles' - and their relation to business performance in almost 700 manufacturing and services companies.
The factors were human capital (people and teams), structural capital (the processes, information systems and patents that remain when employees leave), and relational capital (links with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders).
They found that conventional measures, typified in the DTI’s Innovation Index’s focus on R&D spend and patents, fail to reflect the drivers and effects of innovation in services. The new analysis provides a better way of viewing innovation in service firms, and gets beneath the surface of such factors as R&D spend to identify the underlying processes that ensure this is used effectively.
A separate analysis of 2003 annual reports for 150 companies revealed that their coverage of intangibles was skewed towards their relational capital and away from human capital (60 per cent of commentary focusing on this) with just 14 per cent of mentions relating to human capital.
One likely explanation is that companies want to assure the market of their prospects by focusing on relations with customers and suppliers. The authors warn this risks taking attention will be drawn away from longer-term drivers of innovation involving people working in teams.
“While intangibles have grown in importance, conventional accounting technology, however, remains ill-equipped to account properly for them,” says Professor Chris Hendry, who led the research. “These findings suggest there is an economic rationale for firms’ current voluntary intellectual capital disclosures.”
However the weak focus on aspects of human capital that matter for innovation implies that much of what firms write about people in their annual reports has little bearing on future business performance. “This is not to say people don’t matter, but that firms either add much that is irrelevant to performance or that they do not emphasise what does matter,” he says
The authors say their findings show that any future attempt by regulators to produce a new OFR must ensure it selects the correct key performance indicators to accompany the text, which the revised UK OFR had required.
The research also highlights investors’ attitudes towards company strategy and risk. Interviews with 27 key figures including analysts and fund managers found that investors look for a clear innovation strategy, which has a short- and long-term view of where returns can be generated.
Risk is seen as something companies should respond to positively rather than quantify, moderate and manage downwards. Avoiding risk altogether certainly won’t generate abnormal or even acceptable returns in a competitive climate. This justifies innovation and provides a hook for reporting which any new OFR would do well to embrace.
Annika Howard | alfa
Frugal Innovations: when less is more
19.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO
Europe's microtechnology industry is attuned to growth
10.03.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy