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Exploring the nexus between integrated reporting and sustainability embeddedness

Catherine Le Roux (Department of Business Management, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Marius Pretorius (Department of Business Management, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 17 June 2019

Issue publication date: 24 October 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the nexus between integrated reporting and sustainability embeddedness. It seeks to contribute to a better understanding of the nexus by obtaining in-depth insight from the sensemaking of those in practice.

Design/methodology/approach

A single exploratory case study design strategy was applied to a leading stock exchange listed company in the property industry in South Africa. Rich qualitative data were gathered by applying multiple data gathering techniques to a diverse group of employees within the case company.

Findings

This empirical study contributes a metaphor of a cog and chain and nine themes that elucidate employee sensemaking at the nexus. Integrated reporting was found to drive sustainability embeddedness and foster changes within the organisation. The themes offer in-depth insight into how employees made sense of integrated reporting as a driver for sustainability embeddedness.

Research limitations/implications

The findings emerged from a single case study that operated in a mandatory disclosure context and are therefore not generalisable. The findings reflect the intended outcomes of integrated reporting and further research to explore the unintended outcomes and challenges associated with integrated reporting is suggested.

Practical implications

The study contributes to a growing practice based agenda by offering a better understanding of how integrated reporting and sustainability are conceptualised and adopted in practice.

Social implications

The findings offer organisations’ guidance on integrated reporting and sustainability embeddedness adoption which can have vast implications for society and the environment.

Originality/value

The study responds to gaps in the literature and calls for studies to explore the intersection between integrated reporting and sustainability embeddedness by engaging those in practice.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper forms part of a special section "The nexus between integrated thinking: integrated reporting and governance", guest edited by Nick Barter.

Citation

Le Roux, C. and Pretorius, M. (2019), "Exploring the nexus between integrated reporting and sustainability embeddedness", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 10 No. 5, pp. 822-843. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAMPJ-02-2018-0049

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited