The use of integrated reports to enhance stakeholder engagement

Nick Sciulli, Desi Adhariani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) has promulgated the production of integrated reports to enhance transparency and encourage improved stakeholder relationships. The purpose of this study/paper is to explore how managers prioritize the needs of stakeholders and to what extent integrated reporting is associated with those stakeholder relationships. Design/methodology/approach: The paper uses a case study/interpretative approach to compare the underlying motivation for the preparation of an integrated report across three case study sites from three different industry groups. Face-to-face and telephone semi-structured interviews, email correspondence and a review of the integrated reports form the basis for the data collection and analysis. Findings: The case studies investigated for this project provide evidence that integrated reporting did motivate further stakeholder engagement to increase the organizations’ legitimacy and transparency. Overall, the authors found that the three case study organizations used the production of an integrated report to cement their place as a “leader” in their respective industry group. Moreover, managers regarded the current statutory accounts as inadequate in communicating and engaging with a broad range of stakeholders. There were elements of enhancing, defending and repairing legitimacy and managers tended to equate legitimacy with transparency. Research limitations/implications: Three case study sites were selected on the basis of producing exemplary integrated reports, and senior executives provided their views on stakeholder engagement. For the scope of this study, the stakeholders themselves were not involved in this investigation which can be viewed as a limitation. Practical implications: The international IIRC Framework is built upon the notion that stakeholders are integral to assisting the organization in creating value. The outcomes of this investigation suggest that for preparers, the incumbent organization is reliant on the leadership of senior managers (inclusive of the chief executive officer) and directors to actually instigate the process. In Australia and New Zealand, given that integrated reporting is not mandatory, regulators have no influence over the scope, content and veracity of integrated reports. It seems likely that further stakeholder engagement will become intrinsic to the business model of organizations as a means to quell any notion that it is engaging in greenwashing. Originality/value: The value of this paper is to contrast how three quite distinct organizations are using their integrated reports to communicate their approach to stakeholder engagement. Stakeholder salience dimensions are used to explore the importance attributed by senior managers.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Accounting and Organizational Change
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Disclosures
  • Integrated reporting
  • Stakeholder engagement

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