What does materiality mean to integrated reporting preparers? An empirical exploration

Alessandro Lai, Gaia Melloni, Riccardo Stacchezzini (Lead Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)
16 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose—This paper seeks to understand how the principle of materiality gets implemented in integrated reporting contexts.

Design/methodology/approach—Drawing on an interpretation of materiality as a social construction, this research explores the meaning that practitioners attach to the principle during their implementation of it. Following an existing framework for exploring materiality in corporate reporting, this study investigates the meaning by focusing on who participates in determining integrated reporting materiality and to whom the integrated report (IR) is addressed. This analysis benefits from in-depth interviews with persons involved in the preparation of IR for a firm that pioneered this form of reporting.

Findings—In IR preparers’ view, the meaning of materiality corresponds with the company strategy: The IR describes strategic priorities and related actions and results. Capital providers are the primary intended addressees of the material information. Although several actors engage in IR preparation, the materiality determination process is governed by a specific “IR hub” in strict collaboration with and dependence on the CFO.

Research limitations/implications—In an IR context, materiality is intimately connected to the function that preparers assign to the report.

Originality/value—This novel research opens the “black box” of the process by which materiality gets defined and then practically implemented in an IR context.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-552
Number of pages20
JournalMeditari Accountancy Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2017


  • materiality
  • integrated report
  • strategy
  • reporting process
  • reporting preparers

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