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Book part
Publication date: 12 March 2020

Sergio Paternostro

There are still many different theoretical approaches and practical interpretations about what an integrated report is. Starting from this premise, the overall purpose of…

Abstract

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.

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Non-Financial Disclosure and Integrated Reporting: Practices and Critical Issues
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-964-4

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Book part
Publication date: 25 March 2021

Fiona Robertson

Purpose: This paper aims to understand the relevance of the concept of integrated reporting (<IR>) to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).Methodology/approach: The…

Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to understand the relevance of the concept of integrated reporting (<IR>) to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Methodology/approach: The literature reviewed is from a wide range of reputable business reports, government or governmental bodies as well as academic journal papers.

Findings: The review has provided evidence of the relevance of <IR> to SMEs and highlights the advantages as well as difficulties relating to adoption. Further, although evidence suggested that over 40% of <IR> adopters globally are SMEs, current research on <IR> in SMEs is scant.

Research limitations/implications (if applicable): This literature review has highlighted a need to investigate <IR> and SMEs more widely across more European countries across a wider range and number of SMEs to gain a wider understanding of <IR> and SMEs in a European context.

Practical implications (if applicable): Research that highlights the increasing relevance and advantages of <IR> for SMEs could stimulate further adoption by SMEs.

Social implications: While the individual impact of SMEs on global societal and environmental issues is small, their collective impact is believed to be considerable. <IR> creates the potential to significantly improve the long-term health of corporations and the external environment they impact through consideration of the three indivisible and integrated dimensions of sustainable development: the economy, the society and the environment.

Originality/value of paper: To the author's knowledge, this is the first literature review in this field, thus providing an overview of the issue, which can inform future research.

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Book part
Publication date: 3 September 2018

Ioana-Maria Dragu

This chapter investigates how integrated reporting (IR) can contribute to a better corporate social responsibility (CSR) implementation through diffusion and adoption of…

Abstract

This chapter investigates how integrated reporting (IR) can contribute to a better corporate social responsibility (CSR) implementation through diffusion and adoption of CSR practices and actually applying the CSR discourse. Based on innovation diffusion theory, we intend to analyse the diffusion and adoption of CSR on the grounds of IR. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that IR does indeed represent a mean of reducing the gaps between CSR discourse and its implementation. In order to select the most relevant papers in the area of CSR and IR, we applied the method of positive research. Therefore, the review of literature was made by analysing various theoretical and empirical studies. Setting the main coordinates for CSR and IR through theoretical background, we continue with an empirical analysis on 23 companies that voluntarily publish integrated reports. We intend to demonstrate that IR encourages a diffusion of CSR practices, as companies become more interested in their CSR behaviour.

Details

Redefining Corporate Social Responsibility
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78756-162-5

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Article
Publication date: 2 October 2019

Abeer Hassan, Mahalaximi Adhikariparajuli, Mary Fletcher and Ahmed Elamer

This paper aims to examine trends in the content of reporting within 135 UK higher education institutions (HEIs). It explores the extent to which integrated reporting (IR

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine trends in the content of reporting within 135 UK higher education institutions (HEIs). It explores the extent to which integrated reporting (IR) content elements, reflecting integrated thinking, are disclosed voluntarily and whether HEI-specific features influence the resulting disclosures.

Design/methodology/approach

Existing IR guidelines given by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and the adoption of content analysis have provided the opportunity to examine the trend and extent of IR content elements associated in HEI corporate reports. The evidence was obtained from 405 UK HEI annual reports covering the period 2014-2016.

Findings

The results indicate a significant increase in the number of IR content elements embedded in HEI annual reports. The HEI-specific characteristics examined, such as the establishment of HEI (before or after 1992), adoption of IR framework and size of HEI, are all significantly and positively associated with IR content elements disclosure. This paper argues that institutional theory, isomorphism and isopraxism are relevant for explaining the changes in the contents of HEI annual reports. The findings also suggest that universities are beginning to adopt an integrated thinking approach to the reporting of their activities.

Research limitations/implications

The study is based on IR content elements only and could be extended to include the fundamental concepts and basic principles of the IR framework. There are other factors that have a potentially crucial influence on HEI core activities (such as teaching and learning research and internationalisation) which have been omitted from this study.

Practical implications

The findings will allow policymakers to evaluate the extent to which integrated thinking is taking place and influencing the UK HEI sector in the selection and presentation of information. A further implication of the findings is that an appropriate a sector-wide enforcement and compliance body, for instance, the British Universities Finance Directors Group (BUFDG), may consider developing voluntary IR guidance in a clear, consistent, concise and comparable format. Also, it may pursue regulatory support for this guidance. In doing so, it may monitor the compliance and disclosure levels of appropriate IR requirements. Within such a framework, IR could be used to assist HEIs to make more sustainable choices and allow stakeholders to better understand aspects of HEI performance.

Social implications

The research has implications for society within and beyond the unique UK HEI sector. Universities are places of advanced thinking and can lead the way for other sectors by demonstrating the potential of integrated thinking to create a cohesive wide-ranging discourse and create engagement among stakeholder groups. Specifically, IR builds on the strong points of accounting, for instance, robust quantitative evidence collecting, relevance, reliability, materiality, comparability and assurability, to explain the sustainability discourse into a “language” logical to HEIs organisational decision makers. Consequently, IR may generate better visibility and knowledge of the financial values of exploiting capitals (financial, intellectual, human, manufactured, social and natural) and offer a multifaceted approach to reassess HEIs organizational performance in various sectors that support the growth of integrated thinking.

Originality/value

This is the first known study to explore HEI characteristics and link them with the level of voluntary IR content elements disclosed in UK HEIs.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 10 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 2 December 2019

Elaine Conway

This paper aims to examine the impact of the 2011 mandatory introduction of integrated reporting (<IR>) on the financial performance, risk and institutional shareholding…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine the impact of the 2011 mandatory introduction of integrated reporting (<IR>) on the financial performance, risk and institutional shareholding of listed companies in South Africa to assess whether there is a benefit to <IR> and which may encourage greater adoption of it globally. It contrasts the results with two other African stock exchanges (Nigeria and Egypt with no mandatory <IR>) and examines whether <IR> quality also has an impact on these and on environmental, social and governance (ESG) disclosure scores.

Design/methodology/approach

A series of multivariate ordinary least squares regressions was estimated on a range of financial, risk, institutional and ESG data from firms on the three African stock exchanges, between 2006 and 2015.

Findings

Financial performance and risk in South African firms appear to have decreased since the start of mandatory reporting, but institutional shareholding has increased. The production of higher quality reports is associated with decreased financial performance and risk, higher institutional shareholding and increased ESG scores.

Originality/value

This study is first to test the quantitative effects of <IR> and <IR> quality on a broad range of financial performance and risk measures and the level of institutional shareholding. It also adds to the literature by assessing how the quality of <IR> can impact the ESG scoring of the business. Hence, this study is of interest to firms looking to adopt <IR> for its benefits and to regulatory bodies considering the mandatory adoption of <IR> in support of achievement of national social and environmental goals.

Details

Journal of Financial Reporting and Accounting, vol. 17 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1985-2517

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Article
Publication date: 3 May 2016

Abdifatah Ahmed Haji and Mutalib Anifowose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the trend of integrated reporting (IR) practice following the introduction of an “apply or explain” IR requirement in South Africa…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the trend of integrated reporting (IR) practice following the introduction of an “apply or explain” IR requirement in South Africa. In particular, the authors examine whether the IR practice is ceremonial or substantive in the context of a soft regulatory environment.

Design/methodology/approach

By way of content analyses, the authors examine the extent and quality of IR practice using an IR checklist developed based on normative understanding of existing IR guidelines. The evidence is drawn from 246 integrated reports of large South African companies over a three-year period (2011-2013), following the introduction of IR requirement in South Africa.

Findings

The results show a significant increase in the extent and quality of IR practice. The findings also reveal significant improvements in individual IR categories such as connectivity of information, materiality determination process and reliability and completeness of the integrated reports. However, despite the increasing trend and evidence of both symbolic and substantive IR practice, the authors conclude that the current IR practice is largely ceremonial in nature, produced to acquire organisational legitimacy.

Practical implications

For academics, the authors argue that there is a need to move away from the “what” and “why” aspects of the IR agenda to “how” IR should work inside organisations. In particular, academics should engage with firms through interventionist research to help firms implement integrated thinking and substantive reporting practices. For organisations, the findings draw attention to specific aspects of IR that require improvement. For policymakers, the study provides evidence based on the developmental stage of IR practice and draws attention to certain areas that need clarification. In particular, the International Integrated Reporting Council and Integrated Reporting Committee of South Africa should provide detailed guidelines on connectivity of information, material issues and disclosure of multiple capitals and their trade-offs. Finally, for educators, in line with the ACCA’s embedment of IR in its accounting courses, there is a need to incorporate IR in the curriculum; in particular, the authors argue that the best way to advance IR is in a “ubiquitous” spread in accounting and management courses.

Originality/value

This study provides empirical account of IR practice over time in the context of a regulatory IR environment. The construction of an IR checklist developed based on normative understanding of local and international IR guidelines is another novel approach of this study.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 7 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 5 December 2018

Riccardo Stacchezzini, Cristina Florio, Alice Francesca Sproviero and Silvano Corbella

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the intellectual capital (IC) ontology in an integrated reporting context to explore the function that integrated report (IR

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the intellectual capital (IC) ontology in an integrated reporting context to explore the function that integrated report (IR) preparers assign to IC elements and the role of integrated thinking in this process.

Design/methodology/approach

Social ontology theory helps elucidate how an energy-sector company socially constructed an IC ontology in which IC is a core element of the value creation story told in the IR. The empirical analysis benefited from in-depth interviews with the corporate staff.

Findings

The subjective nature of IC ontology emerges, in that IC’s function is defined during the very process of IR preparation. The intangible elements drive sustainability-oriented financial value creation according to the sustainability approach embraced by the company’s business model. Integrated thinking both facilitates this perspective on IC is shared among various departments of the company and provides a procedure for scrutinising what counts as IC in this integrated reporting context.

Research limitations/implications

The research scope is limited to the IR preparation process. Further research could explore IC ontologies beyond this process.

Originality/value

This study is the first to explore IC ontology empirically within an innovative integrated reporting context. It opens paths to further research on the relationships between IC and integrated thinking.

Details

Journal of Intellectual Capital, vol. 20 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1469-1930

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Article
Publication date: 23 July 2019

Colin Higgins, Wendy Stubbs, Dale Tweedie and Gregory McCallum

Motivated by Morgan’s (1997) analysis of the “paradoxical” role of metaphors in understanding and managing organisations, the purpose of this paper is to assess in what…

Abstract

Purpose

Motivated by Morgan’s (1997) analysis of the “paradoxical” role of metaphors in understanding and managing organisations, the purpose of this paper is to assess in what respects organisations using integrated reporting (IR) are on a “journey” of organisational change.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper analyses IR practitioner literature to interpret the IR journey metaphor more precisely. The authors then use in-depth interviews to assess the extent to which this metaphor captures how six early adopter organisations in Australia implement IR, and what changes result, over four years.

Findings

The journey metaphor implies substantive and holistic organisational change. By contrast, the authors find organisations use IR in contextual, instrumental and piecemeal ways. The authors propose a “toolbox” metaphor to help (re)present how organisations adapt their reporting to fit decisions already made, and challenges presented, through ordinary and ongoing strategic management.

Research limitations/implications

Morgan (1997) stresses metaphors are invariably used to both describe and manage organisations. The authors’ analysis identifies specific ways the IR journey metaphor is descriptively misleading. The authors’ “toolbox” metaphor suggests different ways organisations are, or could, manage IR to create value.

Originality/value

This is the first paper to provide a systematic analysis of the IR journey metaphors, and to assess in what respects this metaphor captures actual organisational practice. The findings also challenge the broader notion in academic research that reporting frameworks can lead organisational change.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 32 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 2 March 2015

Roger Simnett and Anna Louise Huggins

This paper aims to provide insights into salient issues in the development of the Integrated Reporting (<IR>) Framework, and emerging issues in the implementation of this…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide insights into salient issues in the development of the Integrated Reporting (<IR>) Framework, and emerging issues in the implementation of this Framework, with the aim of identifying opportunities for future research. The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has recently produced a reporting framework for the preparation of a concise, user-oriented corporate report which expands the scope of a company’s reporting using a multiple capitals concept and requires a description of a company’s business model, allowing a better communication of its value creation proposition. To gain international acceptance, the market-based benefits of adopting the framework must be demonstrated.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper takes the form of an archival analysis of the responses to the IIRC’s public consultation phases, providing insights into arguments for and against salient aspects of the framework, and identifying issues that would benefit from future research.

Findings

Identifying issues that arose during the framework preparation, this paper identifies a range of future research opportunities and outlines the research approaches by which academics can assess the costs and benefits of companies reporting in accordance with the <IR> Framework and assuring this information.

Research limitations/implications

Research opportunities associated with the International <IR>) Framework and associated assurance are identified.

Practical implications

This paper provides insights and details of the process of adoption of <IR> and has implications for adopters and assurance providers of integrated reports, standard setters and regulators. The development of a sophisticated business case informed by rigorous research will be critical to the further uptake of <IR>.

Social implications

Research opportunities identified include the expansion of the <IR> Framework to reporting entities other than corporations, including government and not-for-profit organisations, as well as measurement and assurance of a broader array of capitals, including social capital.

Originality/value

The paper identifies <IR> research opportunities from an archival analysis of the responses to the IIRC’s public consultation phases, providing insights into arguments for and against salient aspects of the framework that would benefit from future research.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 10 April 2017

Tianyuan Feng, Lorne Cummings and Dale Tweedie

Integrated thinking is central to the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (IIRC’s) integrated reporting (IR) framework, which is in turn is related to a potential…

Abstract

Purpose

Integrated thinking is central to the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (IIRC’s) integrated reporting (IR) framework, which is in turn is related to a potential resurgence of intellectual capital (IC) reporting. However, it remains unclear how key IR stakeholders understand this concept in theory or practice. The purpose of this paper is to explore how key stakeholders interpret integrated thinking; and how pilot organizations are applying integrated thinking in practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The study involved in-depth semi-structured interviews with key IR stakeholders in Australia, including two IR pilot organizations, one professional association, an accounting professional body, an accounting firm and two IIRC officials.

Findings

First, the IIRC has not fully defined and articulated the concept of integrated thinking, and there is no shared consensus among practitioners. Second, there is evidence of an evolving understanding of integrated thinking within practice. What remains unclear is how this understanding will develop over time.

Research limitations/implications

Since interviews were conducted with a relatively small sample of participants in Australia, the results may not be generalizable across different contexts. The study emphasizes the need to interpret carefully IR’s potential contribution to organizational practice through either reporting in general, or IC reporting in particular.

Originality/value

Despite the centrality of integrated thinking to IR, there has been limited research to date on the concept. Clarifying what integrated thinking means in practice can improve our understanding of a key IR concept, and can advance our understanding of IR’s potential to improve IC reporting and research.

Details

Journal of Intellectual Capital, vol. 18 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1469-1930

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