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Silvia Iacuzzi, Andrea Garlatti, Paolo Fedele and Alessandro Lombrano
This paper aims to set out the case for integrated reporting (IR) and its potential to lead to change in the public sector by examining it in practice and analyzing the…
This paper aims to set out the case for integrated reporting (IR) and its potential to lead to change in the public sector by examining it in practice and analyzing the challenges associated with its implementation.
The paper investigates the role of IR in the public sector through the development of a theoretical framework applied to a case study focused on the University of Udine in Italy.
IR can be considered more as an incremental than a groundbreaking transformation of existing arrangements and approaches. The analysis revealed that the vagueness, complexity and intrinsic discrepancy between the IR concept and its operationalization brought the University of Udine to challenge and debate the IR approach and ultimately, to reconceptualize and implement its own version that better fitted its strategic aims, its intended audience and its status as a public entity.
The application of the findings to other contexts should be further investigated, while the analytical framework should be applied to different settings and could be enriched to add knowledge and sharpen the paradigms of integrated thinking and value co-creation. Moreover, the interviews focused on people directly involved in the preparation of the integrated report, excluding other stakeholders. Further research could explore their perceptions of IR and focus on their understanding of the IR as well as the value co-creation process.
The findings provide decision makers with insights about how IR can be promoted to enhance its impact on value co-creation. The key processes to be considered for a public organization are integrated thinking and value co-creation, while the key aspects to be investigated in an integrated report for the public sector are materiality and stakeholder engagement. Yet, the IR framework is missing indications on how to account for stakeholders' inputs, outputs and outcomes in a value co-creation process, which is fundamental in a public service logic.
The results shed further light on two fundamental phenomena in the public sector, namely, integrated thinking and value co-creation. The paper also answers the call for more empirical research on IR's rhetoric and practice and on its concrete role in the value creation process.