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Integrated reporting in South Africa: some initial evidence

Neelam Setia (Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University, Hawthorn, Australia)
Subhash Abhayawansa (Faculty of Business and Enterprise, Swinburne University, Hawthorn, Australia)
Mahesh Joshi (School of Accounting, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)
Anh Vu Huynh (Faculty of Business and Law, Swinburne University, Hawthorn, Australia)

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal

ISSN: 2040-8021

Article publication date: 7 September 2015

3569

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine whether the integrated reports prepared in accordance with the King III Code of corporate governance regulation are providing the information intended of an integrated report, i.e. to communicate the “ability of an organisation to create and sustain value”. Second, it explains the behaviour of companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) when responding to the regulation to publish an integrated report. The King III Code of corporate governance requires companies listed on the JSE to prepare annually an integrated report or provide reasons for not doing so.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper uses legitimacy theory to formulate two alternative propositions on how JSE-listed companies may disclose information relating to a number of capitals, as described by the International Integrated Reporting Committee, in response to the King III Code. Annual/integrated reports of the top 25 JSE listed companies for the years 2009/2010 and 2011/2012 are content-analysed for the presence of information on capitals. The change in the extent of disclosure of capitals is analysed using t-tests to test the propositions.

Findings

The results show that the introduction of integrated reporting in South Africa has resulted in an increase in the extent of disclosure of human, social and relational, natural and intellectual capital information of the listed companies. The increment in the disclosure of social and relational capital is statistically significantly greater than the increment in the disclosure of other capitals. The findings indicate that JSE-listed companies are adopting a legitimation strategy based on symbolic management when preparing integrated reports.

Practical implications

This study sheds light on the relevance of regulating corporate reporting within a setting where companies are already voluntarily reporting on social, environmental, human, intellectual and natural capital information. Findings have implications for policymakers who have mandated or considering mandating integrated reporting. To the South African policymakers, in particular, this study highlights the need for incorporating, within the listing rules, minimum requirements in relation to the nature and content of an integrated report.

Originality/value

This paper provides the first initial evidence on the impact of the introduction of integrated reporting regulation, followed by limited guidance to preparers, on the nature and extent of disclosure of capitals. This study extends the work of Solomon and Maroun (2012) by explaining disclosure practices of South African-listed companies in relation to information on relational, human and intellectual capital.

Keywords

Citation

Setia, N., Abhayawansa, S., Joshi, M. and Huynh, A.V. (2015), "Integrated reporting in South Africa: some initial evidence", Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, Vol. 6 No. 3, pp. 397-424. https://doi.org/10.1108/SAMPJ-03-2014-0018

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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