Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine the nature and implications of the actual techniques used in the measuring and reporting of intellectual capital. Design/methodology/approach - The paper takes the form of a literature review. Findings - The paper demonstrates that the commodification of intellectual capital, rather than solving the contradictions accompanying market value maximisation, simply shifts these contradictions to a new location. Practical implications - The wide range of intellectual capital definitions, frameworks, and indices allow firms to choose intellectual capital reporting which will justify maximising their market value, resulting in the construction of data in intellectual capital reporting that hides the reality of the commodification of labour. Originality/value - Commodification of labour through intellectual capital practices is useful to regulators in policy making and accounting standard setting. Â© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.