Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to describe a research method successfully used to study intellectual capital (IC) and IC flows through a highly networked marketplace. Design/methodology/approach – The method integrates computer-assisted content analysis (CA) and multivariate statistics. The CA is performed on a large source of business and analyst reports. The method is successful in enabling the elements of IC to be related to firm performance, using 156 firms in the global information technology market as a testing ground. Findings – Computer-assisted CA techniques could be successfully used to analyse the larger samples of firms for IC attributes like human capital, internal capital and external or relational capital, than have previously been feasible using manual CA methods. Research limitations/implications – Several limitations of the method are identified and relate to the computer-assisted CA method used. First, the method relies on the existence of a large body of content, in this case business reports and articles, to create the indices for the IC attributes. A second limitation is that the IC attributes are constructed from public sources (i.e. they represent the view of external reporters, rather than internal to the organisation reporters). The method presented combines and extends the benefits of both qualitative and quantitative methods. The richer source of IC content for a larger sample of firms is made accessible through computer-assisted CA. The overall method enables insights to be explored in relating firm IC to firm performance in the market place. Originality/value – The integrated research method presented is the result of original research. The value to researchers is the opportunity it provides to study the IC/performance relationship across markets, rather than be limited to small sample or limited attribute studies.