Barriers to Implementing the International Integrated Reporting Framework: A Contemporary Academic Perspective

Dumay, John; Bernardi, Cristiana; Guthrie, James and La Torre, Matteo (2017). Barriers to Implementing the International Integrated Reporting Framework: A Contemporary Academic Perspective. Meditari Accountancy Research, 25(4) pp. 461–480.



Purpose: This paper is motivated by the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (IIRC) call for feedback from all stakeholders with knowledge of the International Integrated Reporting Framework <IRF>, and specifically of the enablers, incentives and barriers to its implementation. The paper synthesises insights from contemporary accounting research into integrated reporting (IR) as a general concept, and integrated reporting <IR> as espoused by the IIRC in the <IRF> (IIRC, 2013). We specifically focus on possible barriers and emphasise the specific issues we feel could be rectified to advance the <IRF>, along with the areas that may potentially hinder wider adoption and implementation.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper draws upon and synthesises academic analysis and insights provided in the IR and <IR> academic literature as well as various directives, policy and framework pronouncements.

Findings: The flexibility and lack of prescription concerning actual disclosures and metrics in the <IRF> could allow it to be used for compliance, regardless of the other benefits lauded by the IIRC. Thus we see forces, both external and internal, driving <IR> adoption, with one prominent example being the European Union Directive on non-financial reporting. Because of the different ways in which IR is understood and enacted, there are numerous theoretical and empirical challenges for academics. Our paper highlights potential areas for further robust academic research, and the need to contribute to <IR> policy and practice.

Research limitations/implications: The paper provides the IIRC, academics, regulators and reporting organisations with insights into current practice and the <IR> framework. We highlight the need for further development and evidence to help inform improvements both from a policy and a practice perspective. A key limitation of our work is that we draw upon a synthesis of the existing literature which is still in an early stage of development.

Originality/value: The paper provides the IIRC with several insights into the current <IRF>, and specifically with the enablers, incentives and barriers to its implementation. Also, it provides academic researchers with a number of important observations and an agenda upon which they can build their future research.

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