Abstract Purpose – This paper aims to discuss the most critical aspects relative to the “usability” of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) Framework faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in releasing the integrated report and adapting the Integrated Reporting (IR) principles (i.e. materiality, integrated thinking and connectivity) to their needs and features. Only recently the relevance of IR for SMEs has been internationally acknowledged. Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on both a deductive and inductive approach. The first one is founded on a literature and technical review aimed at tracing the theoretical background and the framework on integrating reporting in SMEs. The second one is empirically constructed and follows the action research approach because it involves the analysis of a single case-study relative to a company – Costa Edutainment Spa that released its pioneering integrated report in 2014 – belonging to the Italian Network on Business Reporting, a working group which has been involved in the pivotal drafting process of a Guidance for IR in SMEs. Findings – Results emphasise the main criticalities faced by an SME in the IR process, namely, the need for the following: clearly defining the relationship between sustainability and integrated reporting; adapting the main IR concepts (such us materiality, integrated thinking and connectivity) and fully understanding the benefits deriving from the implementation of IR. Moreover, results shed light on the usefulness of a simplified and operative guidance for releasing the integrated report within SMEs the effectiveness deriving from the direct involvement in the NIBR working group and the provision of practical examples and suggestions. Research limitations/implications – The main limitations are due to the fact that the empirical analysis is related to a single case study, and it is explorative in nature. Consequently, results are not generalisable. However, the work contributes to nourish the debate on the benefits and critical issues relative to the diffusion of IR among SMEs in a research field which has not been adequately investigated and to develop reflections on the benefits of the diffusion of the IR among SMEs, pointing out the opportunity to follow an evolutionary path which drives the evolution of the entrepreneurial and organisational culture towards monitoring, assessing and reporting the company’s value process creation. Practical implications – The work contributes to triggering the debate on the diffusion of IR among SMEs which represents a research field that remains still under investigated. It points out a fundamental gap on how to implement IR in SMEs and operationalise the IIRC concepts and principles. It develops reflections on the critical issues and benefits of the diffusion of the IR among SMEs. Drawing from a pioneering experience, the work contributes to supporting entrepreneurs by emphasising the possible benefits deriving from the implementation of the IR process. It suggests an evolutionary path through different steps (starting from the business model definition) which are necessary to drive the entrepreneurial and organisational culture towards monitoring, assessing and reporting the SMEs’ value process creation. Originality/value – The work contributes to devoting the attention of both scholars and practitioners to an underestimated research field – the “feasibility of IR in the SMEs context – which has not been yet adequately investigated. Moreover, being empirically based, it helps in supporting the diffusion of the IRframework among SMEs, practitioners and consultants by providing insights aimed to improve the IR Guidance for SMEs and sensitise entrepreneurs by emphasising that a possible step-by-step “IR journey” is possible.

The Implementation of Integrating Reporting in SMEs. Insights from a pioneering experience in Italy

DEL BALDO, MARA
2017-01-01

Abstract

Abstract Purpose – This paper aims to discuss the most critical aspects relative to the “usability” of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) Framework faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in releasing the integrated report and adapting the Integrated Reporting (IR) principles (i.e. materiality, integrated thinking and connectivity) to their needs and features. Only recently the relevance of IR for SMEs has been internationally acknowledged. Design/methodology/approach – The study is based on both a deductive and inductive approach. The first one is founded on a literature and technical review aimed at tracing the theoretical background and the framework on integrating reporting in SMEs. The second one is empirically constructed and follows the action research approach because it involves the analysis of a single case-study relative to a company – Costa Edutainment Spa that released its pioneering integrated report in 2014 – belonging to the Italian Network on Business Reporting, a working group which has been involved in the pivotal drafting process of a Guidance for IR in SMEs. Findings – Results emphasise the main criticalities faced by an SME in the IR process, namely, the need for the following: clearly defining the relationship between sustainability and integrated reporting; adapting the main IR concepts (such us materiality, integrated thinking and connectivity) and fully understanding the benefits deriving from the implementation of IR. Moreover, results shed light on the usefulness of a simplified and operative guidance for releasing the integrated report within SMEs the effectiveness deriving from the direct involvement in the NIBR working group and the provision of practical examples and suggestions. Research limitations/implications – The main limitations are due to the fact that the empirical analysis is related to a single case study, and it is explorative in nature. Consequently, results are not generalisable. However, the work contributes to nourish the debate on the benefits and critical issues relative to the diffusion of IR among SMEs in a research field which has not been adequately investigated and to develop reflections on the benefits of the diffusion of the IR among SMEs, pointing out the opportunity to follow an evolutionary path which drives the evolution of the entrepreneurial and organisational culture towards monitoring, assessing and reporting the company’s value process creation. Practical implications – The work contributes to triggering the debate on the diffusion of IR among SMEs which represents a research field that remains still under investigated. It points out a fundamental gap on how to implement IR in SMEs and operationalise the IIRC concepts and principles. It develops reflections on the critical issues and benefits of the diffusion of the IR among SMEs. Drawing from a pioneering experience, the work contributes to supporting entrepreneurs by emphasising the possible benefits deriving from the implementation of the IR process. It suggests an evolutionary path through different steps (starting from the business model definition) which are necessary to drive the entrepreneurial and organisational culture towards monitoring, assessing and reporting the SMEs’ value process creation. Originality/value – The work contributes to devoting the attention of both scholars and practitioners to an underestimated research field – the “feasibility of IR in the SMEs context – which has not been yet adequately investigated. Moreover, being empirically based, it helps in supporting the diffusion of the IRframework among SMEs, practitioners and consultants by providing insights aimed to improve the IR Guidance for SMEs and sensitise entrepreneurs by emphasising that a possible step-by-step “IR journey” is possible.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2654012
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