Integrated reporting (IR) is increasingly becoming a practice useful not only for accountability but also for managerial purposes because of its potential role as a signifying practice for integrated thinking (IT). In this perspective, this paper aims to explore which of the objects that are represented in integrated reports provide materiality and common understanding to the concept of IT for its effective implementation within organizations.
This paper is based on a vocabulary approach for interpreting the texts of integrated reports as systems of words that are able to provide meaning for a common understanding of the concept of IT. In particular, by focusing on words and their relationships, the authors combine textual analysis and network text analysis to examine the structure of meaning embedded in the texts of integrated reports of five organizations, which serve as empirical cases for analysis during the period 2012-2018.
The concept of IT is dynamic in its meaning since in integrated reports it is represented by referring to different objects, in the case different types of capital (i.e. financial, human, social-relational, process, organizational and commercial), which are related to each other while following different paths over time. The dynamic nature of the meaning of IT affects the semantic orientation of the reports in a mutual relationship between IT (which conveys flows of information within the reports) and integrated reports (through which flows of meaning are made visible).
This paper opens the way to a linguistic approach for analyzing the different concepts related to IT to make them meaningful in creating (at least temporarily) a common understanding, as well as facilitating coordination within organizations and between organizations and their environment.
Quarchioni, S., Ruggiero, P. and Damiano, R. (2020), "Flows of information and meaning: a vocabulary approach to integrated thinking and reporting", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/MEDAR-01-2020-0677Download as .RIS
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