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Integrated Reporting and internal mechanisms of change

Wendy Stubbs (School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia)
Colin Higgins (Deakin Graduate School of Business, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 27 August 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the internal mechanisms employed by early adopters of integrated reporting in Australia to manage their reporting process and explores whether integrated reporting is stimulating innovative disclosure mechanisms.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was based on in-depth semi-structured interviews with organisations in varying stages of implementing integrated reporting. In total, 23 interviews were conducted with sustainability managers, finance managers and communications managers across 15 organisations. A content analysis of the interviews was undertaken using qualitative coding techniques.

Findings

While the organisations that are producing some form of integrated report are changing their processes and structures, or at least talking about it, their adoption of integrated reporting has not necessarily stimulated new innovations in disclosure mechanisms. This study did not uncover radical, transformative change to reporting processes, but rather incremental changes to processes and structures that previously supported sustainability reporting.

Research limitations/implications

A major limitation of this research study was the small sample of organisations and stakeholders that participated, and the single-country focus. Finance, accounting and strategy people were particularly under-represented in this study, as well as external stakeholders, and the conclusions can only be tentative until further tested.

Practical implications

This paper sheds light on the practices of early adopters of integrated reporting, and their learning could inform other organisations considering an integrated reporting approach.

Originality/value

As an emerging phenomenon, there are few empirical studies exploring integrated reporting practices and this paper provides some insights into integrated reporting in Australia.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are very grateful to The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia for funding the research study and to our research assistant, Val Sands, for her important contribution to the project. The authors sincerely thank the reviewers for their detailed feedback, which has resulted in a much more insightful and rigorous paper.

Citation

Stubbs, W. and Higgins, C. (2014), "Integrated Reporting and internal mechanisms of change", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 27 No. 7, pp. 1068-1089. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-03-2013-1279

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited