There are still many different theoretical approaches and practical interpretations about what an integrated report is. Starting from this premise, the overall purpose of this chapter is to critically analyze the relationship between integrated reporting (IR) and social/sustainability disclosure. Indeed, although some scholars considered IR as a tool to improve the sustainability approach of the companies allowing to disclose more relevant social information, others are more critical about the potentiality of IR to improve social disclosure. Therefore, the general research question is: Is there a natural link between IR and social disclosure (true love) or is the IR a practice to “normalize” the social disclosure and accounting (forced marriage)?
In the attempt to provide a preliminary answer to the research question, the chapter analyzes what is the approach of three categories: (1) academics; (2) soft-regulators; and (3) companies. From the methodological point of view, a mixed method of analysis has been adopted.
From the analysis of the three different points of view, IR can be considered as a “contested concept” because of the heterogeneous and sometimes conflicting interpretations and implementation that are done on this type of report. This leads to relevant theoretical and practical implications.
Paternostro, S. (2020), "Integrated Reporting and Social Disclosure: True Love or Forced Marriage? A Multidimensional Analysis of a Contested Concept", Songini, L., Pistoni, A., Baret, P. and Kunc, M.H. (Ed.) Non-Financial Disclosure and Integrated Reporting: Practices and Critical Issues (Studies in Managerial and Financial Accounting, Vol. 34), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 107-146. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-351220200000034008
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