Integrated reporting by South African companies : a case study

03 Nov 2017

PURPOSE : The purpose of this paper is to report on the long-term effect of integrated reporting on the quality of information. Investors and stakeholders rely on high-quality integrated reports to obtain social, environmental and ethical information for decision-making. A striking weakness found in recent research on integrated reports is the way certain items of social, environmental and ethical information are excluded while other items are repeated. There is accordingly much confusion, clutter and fragmentation in the integrated reporting landscape. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH : Through a detailed content review of the information companies report on, more insight can be gained into this question five years after the mandatory implementation of King III, which requires companies to provide integrated reports. This study used a similar approach to that of Solomon and Maroun (2012), reviewing the integrated reports of four companies with high social and environmental impact, over a period of three years (2012 to 2014). FINDINGS : The companies’ integrated reports were reviewed in terms of social, environmental and ethical items. The results indicate that there has been a distinct decrease in the amount of information provided in integrated reports but, more importantly, there still exists significant uncertainty as to the amount of reporting that is required. ORIGINALITY/VALUE : The results of this study prove that regulators may have to provide more detailed guidelines as to the reporting duties of companies. It also indicates to managers that their approach to integrated reporting may have to be revised to ensure useful information is provided to stakeholders.