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ACCA research report discusses effects of integrated reporting

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Aug 08, 2012

A report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) provides insights into the impact of integrated reporting on companies' corporate reporting. The ACCA report is based on an academic study of recent experiences in South Africa and contains a number of specific recommendations that could be taken into account by those developing the international integrated reporting framework under the auspices of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) or otherwise.

The ACCA's report, presented as a discussion paper, Reporting pre- and post-King III: what’s the difference?, summarizes the findings of a full academic report called Integrated reporting: the new face of social, ethical and environmental reporting in South Africa? written for the ACCA by Jill Solomon (King’s College, London) and Warren Maroun (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg).

Integrated reporting has been mandatory for entities listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in South Africa since 2010–11. The research analyzed the corporate reports of 10 major South African companies, including a number of resources companies, immediately before (2009) and after (2010–11) the introduction of mandatory integrated reporting.

Some of the research findings include:

  • Integrated reporting sees significantly more social, environmental, and ethical information included in corporate reports, and in more places throughout the report — although this sometimes leads to repetition that is seen as a significant weakness.
  • The impact of integrated reporting on the way that social, environmental, and ethical information is disclosed can be characterised by the following themes: the crucial importance of materiality; an evolving discourse of risk and risk management; an increasing tendency toward quantification; the emergence of new reporting items; the emergence of new sections in the reports; and the increasing integration of social, environmental and ethical considerations into corporate governance structures.
  • Companies have shifted from reporting that is aimed exclusively at their shareholders to reporting that expounds the directors’ claimed belief in stakeholder accountability and stakeholder engagement.

ACCA’s analysis offers five recommendations for the development of integrated reporting, which are based on the academic findings:

  1. The way in which information is set out could be more concise to avoid repetition.
  2. The form of reporting could be extended to incorporate more feedback from consultation with stakeholders regarding social and environmental issues and corporate responsiveness to feedback.
  3. Organizations should solicit the views of their major stakeholders about the social, environmental, and ethical information (and underlying policies and practices) that they report and include these views within integrated reports.
  4. Academics can and should play a significant role in researching the integrated reporting framework and its applicability.
  5. Academics should, can, and do play an important role in educating potential managers and users in integrated reporting through university and professional education in which they are involved.

Click for more information (link to the ACCA's Web site).

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