The IIRC - An emerging epistemic community? An exploration of the tensions between emerging and prevailing logics in the corporate reporting regulatory space

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

The term integrated reporting is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous and powerful idea in corporate reporting. Although there is no generally agreed upon definition, conceptual framework or standard, the term integrated reporting emerged through various initiatives and reporting practices in the reporting field. In 2010, the International Integrated Reporting Committee was set up with the purpose to internationalize a framework and oversee the creation of a generally accepted international integrated reporting framework (IIRF). The aim of this study is to further our understanding of how expert knowledge could translate into power in a field where multiple institutional logics are present. The study focuses on (i) why and how the IIRC has emerged and (ii) explores the relationship between the emerging and prevailing logics in the corporate reporting regulatory space. The analytical framework draws from the concept of epistemic communities, collective institutional entrepreneurship and collective action to analyse the sustained collaboration among diverse actors in the regulatory space to work towards a new corporate reporting model. The analysis is derived from a review of official reports, consultation documents, comment letters and press releases available on website of IIRC and its founding members. This is further supported by in-depth interviews with key persons in the regulatory space. Preliminary evidence shows that the IIRC has navigated through a densely organised yet fragmented regulatory space to gain significant leverage while the definition, episteme and conceptual framework of integrated reporting are still “in the making”. The skilful convening of powerful actors to break the mode of inertia and engage in collective action provided IIRC with legitimacy and a wide platform within which extensive individual and collective networking efforts could be orchestrated. This emerging episteme is legitimised not only through expertise and representation by leaders of participating organisations but IIRC’s mediating role in the pilot programme bringing together the investor network and leading reporters to the “innovation hub”. This provided a catalyst for institutional change and the convergence of logics. In its quest for efficiency and effectiveness, the proposed IIRF guides corporations to communicate their value creation through their business model for providers of financial capital to make financial capital allocation decision. This places the potential shifts in reporting logic in the hands of corporations, mediating organisations and organisations in the financial sphere. Though tensions had been eased through framing the process as a journey and aligning long term investor needs with other stakeholders, it is the loss of decision usefulness of sustainability reports and the lack of evidence of other stakeholders using the report to engage in dialogue with companies and policy makers that have diminished their standing in the corporate reporting regulatory space. In the search for a new reporting model the information needs of other stakeholders have been legitimately subordinated and constructed out of the corporate reporting space, temporarily – at least.

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Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Law

Keywords

  • Integrated reporting, epistemic communities, collective institutional entrepreneurship, collective action, reporting logics
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusSubmitted - 2013
Publication categoryResearch