The tone of business model disclosure: an impression management analysis of the integrated reports

Gaia Melloni, Riccardo Stacchezzini, Alessandro Lai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


The rising emphasis on the business model (BM) as a reportable element reflects the view that it constitutes one of the key starting points for investors’ analysis. In spite of this, recent academic and professional studies describe current reporting on BMs as uninformative: too optimistic, generic and incomplete. The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) claims that these limitations may be overcome by means of an “Integrated Report”, an innovative report which is expected to offer a complete and balanced representation of how organizations create value by mean of their BMs. The paper investigates the informativeness of BM disclosure questioning whether companies adopt impression management (IM) strategies by manipulating the tone of the BM disclosures provided in their reports. We perform a manual content analysis of all the reports identified in the IIRC website and a multivariate statistical analysis to assess if a positive tone of BM disclosure is significantly associated with weak corporate governance, bad performance and low verifiability of the disclosure itself. Our findings support the idea that managers use BM disclosure as an IM strategy. This evidence has relevant implications for both accounting scholars and practitioners, since it questions the role of integrated reporting in improving corporate reporting on BMs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-320
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Management and Governance
Issue number2
Early online date2 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • Business model
  • Integrated reporting
  • Impression management
  • Corporate governance
  • Thematic manipulation
  • Disclosure verifiability

Cite this