Original Research

Theoretical frameworks applied in integrated reporting and sustainability reporting research

Liya Lakhani, Shelly Herbert
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 25, No 1 | a4427 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v25i1.4427 | © 2022 Liya Lakhani, Shelly L. Herbert | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 October 2021 | Published: 22 August 2022

About the author(s)

Liya Lakhani, College of Accounting, Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Shelly Herbert, College of Accounting, Faculty of Commerce, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Over the last few decades, with the emergence of integrated reporting (IR) and sustainability reporting (SR) as new reporting methods, corporate reporting practices attracted substantial interest as a topic of research. Throughout the literature, many theories have been adopted to explain IR and SR practices and there is currently an increased focus on non-financial reporting.

Aim: The purpose of this study is to identify and analyse the theories used in the growing body of IR and SR research, to gather insight into current trends in the use and dominance of these theories in the related literature.

Setting: Research articles in the Scopus database for the period spanning from 2010 to 2019 were included in the study.

Method: Using a systematic review methodology, 574 articles on IR and SR published in the Scopus database for the period spanning from 2010 to 2019, were systematically searched for the presence of theories that may be used to explain these practices.

Results: The results show that the most dominant theories in the last decade are the legitimacy, stakeholder, institutional, agency and signalling theories.

Conclusion: Supported by extensive numerical data, this research provides insights into the theoretical perspectives used in the study of IR and SR and contributes to the existing discourse surrounding applicable theoretical frameworks for studying corporate reporting practices. These insights can be used to study IR and SR as the world grapples with changes in the reporting and business environment.


Keywords

integrated reporting; sustainability reporting; legitimacy theory; stakeholder theory; institutional theory; agency theory; signalling theory; theoretical perspectives

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