Exploring integrated thinking in integrated reporting – an exploratory study in Australia

Tianyuan Feng, Lorne Cummings, Dale Tweedie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: Integrated thinking is central to the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (IIRC’s) integrated reporting (IR) framework, which is in turn is related to a potential resurgence of intellectual capital (IC) reporting. However, it remains unclear how key IR stakeholders understand this concept in theory or practice. The purpose of this paper is to explore how key stakeholders interpret integrated thinking; and how pilot organizations are applying integrated thinking in practice. Design/methodology/approach: The study involved in-depth semi-structured interviews with key IR stakeholders in Australia, including two IR pilot organizations, one professional association, an accounting professional body, an accounting firm and two IIRC officials. Findings: First, the IIRC has not fully defined and articulated the concept of integrated thinking, and there is no shared consensus among practitioners. Second, there is evidence of an evolving understanding of integrated thinking within practice. What remains unclear is how this understanding will develop over time. Research limitations/implications: Since interviews were conducted with a relatively small sample of participants in Australia, the results may not be generalizable across different contexts. The study emphasizes the need to interpret carefully IR’s potential contribution to organizational practice through either reporting in general, or IC reporting in particular. Originality/value: Despite the centrality of integrated thinking to IR, there has been limited research to date on the concept. Clarifying what integrated thinking means in practice can improve our understanding of a key IR concept, and can advance our understanding of IR’s potential to improve IC reporting and research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)330-353
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Intellectual Capital
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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