Original Research

Integrated reporting: A cross-cutting theoretical view on its use and value

Cornelis T. van der Lugt, Nadia Mans-Kemp
Journal of Economic and Financial Sciences | Vol 15, No 1 | a703 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jef.v15i1.703 | © 2022 Cornelis T. van der Lugt, Nadia Mans-Kemp | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 August 2021 | Published: 31 May 2022

About the author(s)

Cornelis T. van der Lugt, University of Stellenbosch Business School, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Nadia Mans-Kemp, Department of Business Management, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Diverging views on the relevant content and target audiences of financial and non-financial reporting have caused a proliferation of reporting standards. This has led to calls for integration and convergence in approaches.

Research purpose: Wide-ranging findings have been reported on the drive behind and consequences of integrated reporting (IR). Theoretical perspectives used to review financial and non-financial corporate reporting were critically compared to propose a cross-cutting theoretical view on IR, thereby enhancing multidisciplinary dialogue.

Motivation for the study: Integrated reporting has pointed to fragmentation in corporate disclosures. The call for integrated thinking also exposes not only divergent reporting approaches but also a gap between two main schools of thought in accounting research and theory.

Research approach/design and method: A critical literature review was conducted, examining scholarly research on IR, practitioner reports and relevant textbooks to propose a cross-cutting theoretical lens on why and how companies disclose specific information in certain reporting formats.

Main findings: Theoretical viewpoints on IR centre on accountability or efficiency. Yet, contrasting conclusions are drawn on the decision usefulness for various target audiences. As such, an aspirational efficiency view is proposed to reconcile accountability and efficiency considerations in future IR investigations.

Practical/managerial implications: The refined understanding of reporting efficiency, disclosure quality and key users sheds light on reporting ideologies that idiomatically ‘talk past one another’. The proposed theoretical view can be applied in future research on how IR strategically integrates diverse information sets.

Contribution/value-add: The proposed theoretical view builds on components of theories applied in corporate reporting research to conjunctively account for accountability and efficiency.


Keywords

integrated reporting; aspirational efficiency; accountability; legitimacy; stakeholders; disclosure

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