Integrated reporting and narrative accountability: the role of preparers

Alessandro Lai, Gaia Melloni, Riccardo Stacchezzini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The International Integrated Reporting Council claims that integrated reporting (IR) can enhance corporate accountability, yet critical and interpretative studies have contested this outcome. Insufficient empirical research details how preparers experience accountability while constructing IR; to fill this gap, the purpose of this paper is to analyse how the preparers’ mode of cognition influences the patterns of accountability associated with IR.

Design/methodology/approach: A functionalist approach to narratives helps elucidate the role that the IR preparers’ narrative mode of cognition plays on accountability towards stakeholders. The empirical analysis particularly benefits from in-depth interviews with the IR preparers of a global insurer that has used IR since 2013.

Findings: The preparers’ narrative mode of cognition facilitates dialogue with IR users. It addresses accountability tensions by revealing the company’s value creation process. Preparers’ efforts to establish a meaningful dialogue with a growing variety of stakeholders through broader and plainer messages reveals the potential of IR as a narrative source of a socializing form of accountability. However, financial stakeholders remain the primary addressees of the reports.

Research limitations/implications: This paper focusses on preparers’ views; further research should integrate users’ accountability expectations.

Originality/value: This paper offers new insights for dealing with corporate reporting and accountability in a novel IR setting.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1381-1405
Number of pages25
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number5
Early online date1 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2018


  • Insurance
  • Accountability
  • Integrated reporting
  • Narratives
  • Mode of cognition
  • Report preparers

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