Original Research

Linking integrated reporting quality with sustainability performance and financial performance in South Africa

Nadia Mans-Kemp, Cornelis T. van der Lugt
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 23, No 1 | a3572 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v23i1.3572 | © 2020 Nadia Mans-Kemp, Cornelis T. van der Lugt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 February 2020 | Published: 20 August 2020

About the author(s)

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


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Abstract

Background: Ten years have lapsed since the launch of the International Integrated Reporting Council. Stakeholders increasingly question whether integrated reporting (IR) meets the objectives of decision-usefulness and accountability.

Aim: The primary objective of this study was to assess the usefulness of IR by examining the interrelations between the integrated reporting quality (IRQ), sustainability performance and financial performance of listed companies in South Africa.

Setting: The study is conducted in the country where integrated reporting is most established. The links between the IRQ of the Top 100 companies listed on Johannesburg Stock Exchange and their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) scores and multiple financial indicators are investigated over the period 2013 to 2018.

Method: The EY Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards was used as a metric to determine the sample companies’ IRQ. These awards were ranked according to four categories, namely ‘progress to be made’, ‘average’, ‘good’ and ‘excellent’. Sustainability (ESG scores) as well as financial performance data (accounting-based and market-based variables) were sourced from Bloomberg. The panel dataset was analysed by conducting a mixed-model analysis of variance and panel regressions.

Results: A high level of IRQ was found to be significantly associated with high levels of environmental, social and corporate governance performance, as well as high earnings per share and high leverage.

Conclusion: IR appears to strengthen managerial efficiency and legitimacy in the eyes of debt capital providers in South Africa, while equity capital providers do not provide a clear signal of approval.


Keywords

Integrated reporting; sustainability performance; financial performance; legitimacy theory; stakeholder theory.

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