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Conceptualising the contemporary corporate value creation process

Carol A. Adams (Durham University, Durham, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to examine and explain the complex interrelationships which influence the ability of firms to create value for their providers of finance and other stakeholders (loosely referred to in practice as “integrated thinking”). In doing so it examines the interrelationships between: environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk; delivering on corporate strategy; non-financial corporate reporting; and, board oversight.


Interviews were conducted with board chairs and non-executive directors of large listed companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (where Boards are required to have a social and ethics sub-committee and approve integrated reports which have been mandatory since 2010) and the Australian Stock Exchange (where Board directors’ liability legislation results in Boards being reluctant to adopt integrated reporting which is voluntary).


The research finds that contemporary reporting processes, and in particular those set out in the King III Code and the International Integrated Reporting Framework, influence cognitive frames enhancing board oversight and assisting organisations in managing complexity. This results in increased awareness of the impact of ESG issues together with a broader view of value creation despite investor disinterest.

Research limitations/implications

A number of avenues of research are suggested to further examine the interrelationships identified.

Practical implications

The research assists the development of practice and policy by articulating and enhancing the understanding of linkages, which loosely fall under the vague practitioner term “integrated thinking”.

Social implications

The conceptualisation can inform national and global discussions on the appropriateness of corporate reporting and governance models to achieve sustainable development and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.


The paper conceptualises emerging and complex interrelationships. The cross-country comparison allows an assessment of the extent to which different national social contexts with differing governance and reporting frameworks lead to different perspectives on, and approaches to, value creation.



The author would like to thank the interviewees for their generosity with their time to allow this research to be undertaken. The author is grateful to those who helped in establishing contact with potential interviewees, but have not disclosed their names in order to maintain anonymity of the interviewees. The author would like to thank CPA Australia and the University of Pretoria for providing funding to support this research and Rene Swart for making sure the author got to the interviews in South Africa. The author is grateful for feedback from Mark Learmonth, Venkat Narayanan, Brad Potter, Sandra Waddock, Chris Van Staden and participants in seminars at the University of Queensland and Swinburne University and at the EMAN conference at Leuphana Universitӓt and the CSR conference at Humboldt Universitӓt in 2016. The guidance provided by Lee Parker and anonymous referees has been valuable in revising the paper.


Adams, C.A. (2017), "Conceptualising the contemporary corporate value creation process", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 906-931.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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