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Article
Publication date: 7 November 2019

Pilar Tirado-Valencia, Magdalena Cordobés-Madueño, Mercedes Ruiz-Lozano and Marta De Vicente-Lama

The purpose of this study is to explore how preparers of non-financial information in the public sector report on the integrated thinking (IT) concept proposed in the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to explore how preparers of non-financial information in the public sector report on the integrated thinking (IT) concept proposed in the integrated reporting (IR) initiative. This concept has not been sufficiently examined, and there is no consensus regarding its meaning. In addition, the elements required to put IT into practice have not been empirically investigated. Specifically, given its relevance in the creation of public value, IT in the field of public sector enterprises is analysed.

Design/methodology/approach

To this end, content analysis of a sample of IR reports prepared by state-owned entities is performed with the aim of identifying which aspects offer opportunities for improvement with respect to transparency and sustainability.

Findings

The results show empirical evidence on the relevance of the dimensions considered for IT. However, IT is not yet fully implemented in reporting of the studied organizations despite its importance in the IR framework. Regarding the links between IR information and the process of value creation and strategy, the results reveal that in the external approach dimension connections of the environment and the business model with value creation are relatively frequent. However, connections related to commitment to stakeholder demands are infrequent.

Research limitations/implications

The study has limitations that are primarily related to the small number of sampled companies, which makes it difficult to generalize the conclusions regarding the commitment of organizations to IT. Second, all the dimensions and variables of IT were equally weighted given the lack of weighting information that should be used in IT index construction. Therefore, the index may not be an accurate measure of the commitment of the public entities analysed to this holistic way of thinking. In addition, this study did not take into account other factors that could influence reporting, such as industry or administrative culture, and all public enterprises in the sample were treated as if reporting demands in the public sector were homogeneous regardless of the environment in which they operate. Finally, this study assumes that the quantity of information disseminated through the report about IT variables is an indicator of the degree of adoption of a holistic thinking. However, IT also requires internal management processes and management behaviours which, in fact, are not always reflected in the reports. This could challenge the internal coherence of the quantity of information disseminated through the report as a measure.

Practical implications

This study’s findings have implications for the reporting of public sector enterprises. From the point of view of preparers, the findings show which aspects were taken into account to reflect IT in the report. Adhariani and De Villiers (2019) consider it a key aspect that preparers should prioritize in preparing the report. The study’s results show that many opportunities exist for improving the content of the nonfinancial information reports and providing evidence about the implementation of IT in public sector reporting. Moreover, this study can help standard setters and practitioners guide the content of reporting by public entities, and thus improving their stakeholder relations, accountability, transparency and credibility. In addition, the results may be interesting for legislators and policymakers when determining what regulatory information should be mandatory for public enterprises. Finally, IT can help governments and public managers identify relevant aspects in the generation of public value and legitimize their actions.

Originality/value

Apart from contributing to the clarification of the IT concept, this study empirically analyses how it is being made visible in the reports prepared by public enterprises that currently follow the IR conceptual framework. The results of this analysis can contribute to improving transparency and accountability. In addition, the findings also have implications for sustainability development, as they reveal not only what aspects should be considered in IT but also how to make it operational. The results show that internal processes should be better coordinated and that there is a need of greater involvement of the managers with nonfinancial aspects. Furthermore, information should be more interconnected. All previous would improve the perception that citizens have of the future sustainability of public entities. Specifically, the findings have direct implications for reporting. First, we improve the understanding of IT by clarifying the elements that are to be integrated. The research findings on these aspects that show a holistic vision of the organization have practical implications for preparers who can gain a deeper understanding of the elements and how they should be incorporated in the reports and taking into account that connectivity should be a relevant issue.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 28 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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Article
Publication date: 20 July 2021

Mercedes Ruiz-Lozano, Marta De Vicente-Lama, Pilar Tirado-Valencia and Magdalena Cordobés-Madueño

This paper aims to assess the disclosure of the materiality process in the preparation of sustainability reports of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). This paper also…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to assess the disclosure of the materiality process in the preparation of sustainability reports of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). This paper also explores the effects of regulation mandating that SOEs prepare sustainability reports. In the specific case of port authorities, the study analyses the influence of a sector guideline that determines what should be included and the structure of the report. Another aim of this paper is to delve into SOE's motivations for disclosing information on materiality assessments, using the assumptions of the different theories to explain their reporting practices.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a sample of SOEs sustainability reports, a content analysis is undertaken. The methodology involves the analysis of the information disclosed by SOEs in Spain and the development of a materiality disclosure index. This index enables sampled entities to be classified on a scale of 0–5, based on the extent of their disclosures of the materiality determination process. This study also identifies several variables that explain differences in these disclosures.

Findings

A low rate of information disclosed about the materiality process can be attributed to the desire of SOEs to create symbolic legitimacy. In a context where the disclosure of sustainability information is mandatory, only few organisations apply the principle of materiality to define the content of their sustainability reports. These results highlight that institutional isomorphism has only had a limited effect on the materiality process.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations associated with the sample size and composition of the sample by sector apply.

Practical implications

This research shows that generally accepted reporting guidelines constitute a reference framework for sustainability reporting but that the principles underpinning these frameworks are not always implemented.

Originality/value

This study extends the literature on the implementation of the principle of materiality and uses disclosure theories to explain the actual reporting by SOEs of their materiality process.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 22 September 2020

Pilar Tirado-Valencia, Magdalena Cordobés-Madueño, Mercedes Ruiz-Lozano and Marta De Vicente-Lama

This paper aims to improve the understanding of integrated thinking, as it is a central concept in the integrated reporting (IR) framework that has implications for…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to improve the understanding of integrated thinking, as it is a central concept in the integrated reporting (IR) framework that has implications for sustainability reporting, as the holistic view of integrated thinking clarifies the value creation process of organisations and facilitates the incorporation of sustainability issues into the corporate mindset. The study investigates whether there are contextual factors that may be influencing the way integrated thinking is reflected in the reports. The paper focusses on public companies because integrated thinking in this sector plays an important role in terms of sustainability reporting, as these organisations must address more complex and diverse relationships with their stakeholders.

Design/methodology/approach

The methodology is based on a content analysis of the IR reports issued by 21 public sector companies. For this analysis, this study proposed specific dimensions and variables that demonstrate this way of thinking. These allow us to develop an integrated thinking index (ITI) based on a frequency análisis. The influence of the country’s legal system, the sector of activity and the number of years of experience in IR is studied, by conducting t-test and ANOVA analyses and a correlation study.

Findings

The results demonstrate the existence of limited integrated thinking characterised by poor connectivity of information, lack of a clear link between materiality analysis and strategy and insufficient forward-looking perspective. The findings reveal that contextual and institutional factors have little influence on the levels of integrated thinking achieved.

Originality/value

The concept of integrated thinking has not been sufficiently explored to date, despite its importance in the IR conceptual framework. The study proposes specific dimensions and variables to be considered in preparing reports that exhibit this holistic way of thinking. The recommendations can help information preparers and improve the accountability and transparency of public sector companies.

Details

Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2040-8021

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Article
Publication date: 13 June 2016

Pilar Tirado-Valencia, Mª Luisa Rodero-Cosano, Mercedes Ruiz-Lozano and Araceli Rios-Berjillos

The purpose of this paper is to propose an analytical model that shows causal relationships between the amount and nature of information on strategies and the governance…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose an analytical model that shows causal relationships between the amount and nature of information on strategies and the governance of city councils, as well as the contents of different dimensions of sustainability that are disclosed on the websites of local governments in big European cities. This model could reveal if the information is disseminated in a homogeneous and coordinated way and could improve the quality of the information, its coherence and its comparability.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors have designed a questionnaire with 75 variables from the Global Reporting Initiative proposal to specify information disclosed on sustainability. The level of information about each of these variables has been gathered by consulting the contents published on the websites of the 142 local governments in the sample. Finally the authors propose a model about the cause-effect relationships between the amount and nature of the information in different dimensions of sustainability on the websites of large cities’ local governments based on the structural equation modelling methodology.

Findings

The model obtained reveals that there is coherence in the sustainability information disclosed by large European cities on their websites. However, it is demonstrated that the relations between the amount of information about strategies and the dissemination of information on each of the dimensions of sustainability (economic, social and environmental) do not have the same intensity.

Originality/value

The proposed model can be useful as a reference framework to structure online information supplied in a balanced and comprehensive way. This conceptual model can suggest ways for sustainable improvements based on the experience of analysed local governments.

Details

Online Information Review, vol. 40 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1468-4527

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