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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 11 August 2022

Dusan Ecim and Warren Maroun

This paper assesses the state and development of integrated thinking research in selected developed and developing economies by providing a “stock taking” of the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper assesses the state and development of integrated thinking research in selected developed and developing economies by providing a “stock taking” of the literature included in the Scopus Database based on filtered criteria.

Design/methodology/approach

A search was performed on the Scopus Database and all sources containing “integrated thinking” in the title, abstract, or keywords were extracted. A total of 98 sources from 2011–2021 are analysed. These are coded with the support of a content analysis and a bibliometric analysis to determine research objectives and methods, affiliations, the locus of enquiry and epistemological perspectives.

Findings

There is a steady increase in attention devoted to integrated thinking research. The earliest studies were concerned primarily with the type of extra-financial information being included in an organisation's reports. This has given way to studies concerned with the operationalisation of integrated thinking. The current research has predominantly focussed on non-positivist epistemologies at the macro- and meso-levels with limited research undertaken at organisational levels.

Practical implications

Research on integrated thinking is particularly relevant in the context of developing economies where integrated thinking can be used as a means to value-creation, sustainable development and stakeholder inclusivity.

Social implications

This paper provides a useful reference for practitioners, academics and journal editors interested in the development of integrated thinking research.

Originality/value

This paper highlights the need for more active research on integrated thinking and reporting in developing economies because much of what has been published to date comes from developed nations. This paper provides an overview of the state of integrated thinking research and presents important areas for future research.

Details

Journal of Accounting in Emerging Economies, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2042-1168

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 30 August 2022

Warren Maroun, Dusan Ecim and Dannielle Cerbone

Integrated thinking involves a holistic, multi-capital approach to decision-making and operations to promote value creation and sustainability. This paper aims to outline…

Abstract

Purpose

Integrated thinking involves a holistic, multi-capital approach to decision-making and operations to promote value creation and sustainability. This paper aims to outline a schematic which can be used to gauge the levels of integrated thinking by organisations.

Design/methodology/approach

The researchers partnered with an independent consulting firm (“Sustain-X”) which has developed a tool for evaluating integrated thinking. A two-stage mixed-method design is used to evaluate the tool. Firstly, in keeping with the exploratory nature of the paper, the tool’s integrated thinking principles and indicators are contrasted with findings from an extensive review of the integrated thinking research and interviews with experts on how integrated thinking is understood and operationalised. Secondly, the tool was applied to a sample of South African listed firms’ integrated reports and used to generate integrated thinking scores. These scores are evaluated by testing the strength of their association with other generally accepted proxies for integrated thinking.

Findings

The principles of the schematic include integrated awareness and understanding; integrated leadership commitment and capability; integrated structures; integrated organisational performance management; and integrated external communication. Empirical results show that the integrated thinking measures generated using the Sustain-X schematic are aligned with integrated report quality scores and ratings of the sophistication of organisations’ accounting, management and governance structures.

Research limitations/implications

A combination of earlier research findings, detailed interviews (conducted independently of Sustain-X) and a battery of quantitative tests have been used to evaluate the schematic, but more refined testing using additional case studies or ethnographies has been deferred.

Practical implications

The tool offers a practical means for stakeholders to evaluate integrated thinking. It is flexible enough to be used with data collected during private engagements with companies or only publicly available information.

Social implications

The schematic is one of the first to outline the dimensions of integrated thinking and should be useful for academics and practitioners concerned with the development and application of integrated thinking.

Originality/value

This paper adds to the literature on integrated thinking and answers the call for further research to evaluate integrated thinking practices.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 14 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 2 October 2017

John Dumay and Tim Dai

The paper’s purpose is to investigate the concept of integrated thinking as part of the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (IIRC’s) Integrated Reporting (<IR>…

1862

Abstract

Purpose

The paper’s purpose is to investigate the concept of integrated thinking as part of the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (IIRC’s) Integrated Reporting (<IR>) framework. It explores integrated thinking as a cultural control and analyses how it operates.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents a case study of ResBank (a pseudonym), a small Australian bank, which is participating in the IIRC’s <IR> Pilot Programme Business Network. ResBank issued its first integrated report in 2012. Using semi-structured interviews, we examine whether integrated thinking develops as espoused by the IIRC.

Findings

In ResBank’s case, we find that the responsible banking culture that was in place prior to joining the Pilot Programme is a stronger cultural control, alongside personnel, results and action controls. The implication for the IIRC is that integrated thinking clashes with the existing organisational culture rather than driving a new organisational culture.

Practical implications

If integrated thinking is to prevail, it may become a source of inertia rather than change because it advocates that an entire workforce should think the same way. We also question whether breaking down silos, as advocated by integrated thinking, is necessary across all organisational functions, especially concerning material organisational risks and reputation, because these silos foster independent thinking.

Social implications

The problem with the arguments proposed by the IIRC is that they aim at a one-size-fits-all approach. Not every organisation has a disconnection between strategy, governance, past performance and future prospects nor do they all have disconnected departments that need reconnecting. Therefore, a fundamental problem with <IR> is that the IIRC argues ‘why’ companies need <IR>, not ‘how’ to implement <IR>, and especially not ‘how’ to operationalise integrated thinking.

Originality/value

The paper is a must-read because it contributes to the growing debate on the benefits of <IR> by examining and critiquing an early adopter’s practice.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 25 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 31 December 2018

Rada Massingham, Peter Rex Massingham and John Dumay

The purpose of this paper is to present a new learning and growth perspective for the balanced scorecard (BSC) that includes more specific measures of integrated thinking

4167

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a new learning and growth perspective for the balanced scorecard (BSC) that includes more specific measures of integrated thinking and value creation to help improve integrated reporting (<IR>). Practical, relevant definitions of these historically vague concepts may improve intangible asset disclosures (IAD) and increase uptake of the<IR> framework.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is conceptual. The authors use organisational learning to theorise about the learning and growth perspective of the BSC, within the context of the practice of IAD.

Findings

Several criticisms of IAD, the<IR>framework and the BSC have acted as barriers to implementing the<IR>framework. The improved version of the BSC’s learning and growth perspective, presented in this paper, addresses those criticisms by redefining the concept of integrated thinking (learning) and more fully connecting that learning to future value creation (growth). The model is designed to be used in tandem with the<IR>framework to operationalise integrated thinking. A new BSC strategy map illustrates how this revised learning and growth perspective interacts with the other three BSC perspectives to create long-term shareholder value through the management and growth of knowledge within an organisation.

Research limitations/implications

Organisational learning is an important source of competitive advantage in the modern knowledge economy. Here, the authors encourage further debate on how to report and disclose information on intangible assets, driven by a new conceptual strategy for organisational learning that fully supports the BSC’s capacity to help integrated thinking and future value creation for the<IR>framework.

Practical implications

From its roots as a performance measurement system, the BSC has become a widely used strategy execution tool. The<IR>framework has struggled to gain traction, but still has value in exploring intangible assets and its disclosure from a systems thinking perspective. The model is designed to bring an explicit understanding of how to improve integrated thinking for the<IR>framework facilitating better measurement, management and reporting of human and structural capital. By doing so, the new model enables a firm to use the BSC to engage with<IR>more effectively, which should also be useful for practitioners given the widespread use of the BSC.

Originality/value

The analysis of the BSC’s learning and growth perspective reveals two dichotomies – one between resources and growth, and another between systems and capability. The revised perspective resolves these dichotomies with clear, forward-focused measures of learning and intangible asset growth, and multiple vertical and horizontal connections between the perspective’s four constructs. The authors demonstrate practical paths to value creation through a range of strategic impacts.

Details

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 17 September 2020

Ruth Dimes and Charl de Villiers

This paper aims to examine how management control systems (MCS) can enable and constrain the successful adoption of integrated thinking in an organisation.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to examine how management control systems (MCS) can enable and constrain the successful adoption of integrated thinking in an organisation.

Design/methodology/approach

The study adopts a case study approach, involving in-depth interviews and documentary evidence.

Findings

The case study organisation perceived trust to be critical to the successful adoption of integrated thinking, and informal social controls with strong endorsement from senior management frequently substituted for more formal technical controls in helping to develop a trust-based organisational culture. These cultural changes improved collaboration and brought economic benefits by encouraging outcome-based decision-making rather than capital-based decision-making, thereby enabling employees to identify and address poorly performing projects earlier. However, established performance measurement systems geared towards reporting and rewarding accounting profits created tension, constraining the potential benefits of integrated thinking by reinforcing business unit protectionism.

Practical implications

Integrated thinking can be seen as a form of management with the potential to improve organisational outcomes. An improved understanding of factors that might enable or constrain integrated thinking could facilitate its spread.

Originality/value

Despite several calls for research on the practical implementation of integrated thinking, this has not been studied extensively. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this study is one of the firsts to contribute to a better understanding of the role of MCS in the successful implementation of integrated thinking in an organisation. The study also contributes to the MCS literature.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 14 December 2020

Rayhan Arul, Charl de Villiers and Ruth Dimes

This study aims to provide insights into the poorly understood concept of integrated thinking by comparing and contrasting disclosures related to integrated thinking

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to provide insights into the poorly understood concept of integrated thinking by comparing and contrasting disclosures related to integrated thinking provided in integrated reports in two different institutional settings.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses content analysis of the narrative sections of integrated reports to explore similarities and differences in the way the concept of integrated thinking is portrayed. It uses a matched sample of financial services companies in two different institutional settings, South Africa (where integrated reporting (IR) is mandatory and IR practices are world-leading) and Japan (where IR is voluntary and interest in IR is still developing). IR adoption is viewed through the lens of institutional theory, focussing on isomorphic forces which affect companies’ structure, policies and practices.

Findings

Even though the conceptualisation of integrated thinking differs between South Africa and Japan, in both settings there is a strong association between integrated thinking disclosures and corporate governance practices, materiality assessments and the pursuit of an industry leadership position, suggesting a link between these concepts and the underlying level of integrated thinking. Japanese disclosures appear to mimic South African disclosures, highlighting South Africa’s leading role in IR, although Japan shows more varied interpretations of integrated thinking.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the growing body of literature on the poorly understood concept of integrated thinking, responding to calls from both academics and practitioners for more research in this area. It shows the potential for integrated thinking to develop through a process of mimicry and highlights South Africa’s leading role in the dissemination of best practice in the field. Its findings relating to the fluid conceptualisation of integrated thinking in different institutional settings will be of interest to regulators and practitioners. To the knowledge this is one of the first studies to consider disclosures relating to integrated thinking in the financial services sector. Focussing on the financial services sector, with its unique features and regulatory frameworks, allows for deeper analysis, free from the potential distortions inherent in studying a broader cross-section of industries. The study also highlights the importance of corporate governance to integrated thinking, suggesting future research avenues.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 28 October 2020

Nicholas McGuigan, Ellen Haustein, Thomas Kern and Peter Lorson

This paper aims to introduce an analytical focus on an individual’s integrative thinking capacity to further understand integrated thinking within the organisation…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to introduce an analytical focus on an individual’s integrative thinking capacity to further understand integrated thinking within the organisation. Integrated thinking is an elusive concept, gaining in prominence through its use by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), without specific guidance or a commonly understood framework. To date, the academic debate on integrated thinking addresses the organisational level only. However, thinking is a process occurring within the mind of an individual and therefore the prerequisites for integrated thinking at the individual level needs to be considered. Critical reflection is, therefore, provided on the interplay between integrative and integrated thinking.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper draws on conceptual systems theory and case site analysis to reflect how integrative thinking can be encouraged and supported within the individual and how integrated thinking can hence be fostered within organisations.

Findings

The paper analyses and discusses four sites of integrative thinking: the Athenian democracy; the Minangkabau community; the Quakers and consensus decision-making; and the Apis Mellifera and the hive mind. The findings from these different sites illustrate that integrative thinking can be supported by specific structural, organisational and individual contexts and stimuli.

Originality/value

Extending the context of integrated thinking analysis outside of the organisation and analysing these sites through components of integrative thought, this article provides further insights into how integrated thinking can be fostered within different organisations. The implications of these findings for accounting and professional institutions, organisations and the ongoing professional development of accountants are discussed.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 29 January 2021

Roshan Herath, Samanthi Senaratne and Nuwan Gunarathne

This paper aims to explore how the integrated thinking of a chief executive officer (CEO) impacts the management’s orchestration of the six capitals to create value in an…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore how the integrated thinking of a chief executive officer (CEO) impacts the management’s orchestration of the six capitals to create value in an organization.

Design/methodology/approach

Following a case study approach, data was gathered on two business organizations in Sri Lanka through interviews, focus group discussions and documentary analyzes. Thematic and cross-case analyzes were used in analyzing the data based on an analytical framework that was developed using systems and resource orchestration theories.

Findings

The study finds that the integrated thinking perspective of the CEO determines which capitals to embrace in the pursuit of value creation by an organization. A broader perspective on the integrated thinking of the CEO can lead to a sustainable perspective for value creation focusing on integrated corporate responsibility. On the contrary, a constrained perspective of integrated thinking can lead to a business case perspective for value creation that focuses mainly on the key areas of responsibility extended for operational efficiency. These different perspectives result in differences in value creation in organizations over time.

Practical implications

The capitals embraced in the integrated thinking perspective of a CEO should be translated into objectives, strategies and performance measurement and implemented at every level of the company to create value. This perspective of a CEO can be institutionalized through the adoption of accredited management systems. To foster value creation, managers should use a variety of information technology platforms and internal networks.

Originality/value

This is one of the first studies that explore how the perception of integrated thinking of the CEO impacts value creation in an organization through a combination of resource orchestration and systems thinking theory lenses.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

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…

1161

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

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 3 August 2021

Cristiano Busco, Fabrizio Granà and Giulia Achilli

This study aims to develop a framework to systematize the emerging literature on integrated thinking and offers empirical insights on how integrated thinking has been…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to develop a framework to systematize the emerging literature on integrated thinking and offers empirical insights on how integrated thinking has been practiced within an organization. The paper also introduces the contributions that compose the special issue “exploring integrated thinking in action: theoretical interpretations and evidence from the field” and outlines avenues for future research.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper critically reviews the literature on integrated thinking and proposes a framework that classifies prior studies into three areas, namely, integrated thinking and sustainable strategies; integrating thinking in practice; the concept and measures of integrated thinking. The study also provides an illustration of the ways in which integrated thinking has been adopted by a European energy company to shape and execute its purpose-driven strategy, as well as the benefits that have emerged. The paper uses the framework developed from the literature to introduce the contributions of the special issue and to suggest future research opportunities.

Findings

The study shows that while the literature on integrated thinking is still in its infancy, the evidence emerging from contemporary organizations supports empirical-driven research and stimulates a variety of theoretical and empirical contributions that will enable the academic debate to move forward.

Originality/value

The theoretical and practical insights offered by this study, together with those provided by the papers of this Meditari Accountancy Research special issue, will foster future research on integrated thinking. In particular, the framework developed in this paper may be drawn upon by researchers to plan new research projects on integrated thinking and its adoption within organizations.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 29 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

Keywords

1 – 10 of over 106000