Deconstructing corporate sustainability narratives: A taxonomy for critical assessment of integrated reporting types

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The purpose of our study is to provide a taxonomy of integrated reporting (<IR>). First, we develop a coding catalog containing criteria and metrics. Second, we assess the degree to which annual/sustainability reports comply with <IR>, and identify types of reports (taxonomy). Methodologically, we employ conceptual arguments to draft the criteria and metrics. The taxonomy relies on a cross-sectional content analysis of annual/sustainability reports and websites of 128 listed Danish organizations. We present several results. First, we develop the two dimensions of FORM and CONTENT for our taxonomy. Second, we identify three types of reports: traditional (27%), enhanced (57%), and integrated thinking (16%). Specifically, integrated thinking reports exhibit higher connectivity, more compliance with sustainability standards/guidelines, and more frequent external assurance. Surprisingly, enhanced content reports are often published as “one report” and framed as shareholder-oriented. Conversely, integrated thinking reports tend to comprise several highly connected reports, and emphasize stakeholder perspectives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCorporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1785-1800
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 01.11.2021

    Research areas

  • business model, corporate social responsibility, environmental policy, integrated reporting, integrated thinking, stakeholder engagement, sustainability reporting, sustainable development
  • Management studies