Integrated reporting: exploring supervisory board members’ perspectives on the motives, drivers and benefits
The purpose of this paper is to explore the perceived benefits of integrated reporting (IR) and factors influencing the motives that supervisory board members (SBMs) have for advocating a change towards IR implementation.Design/methodology/approachAn exploratory survey study was conducted to investigate the influence of external market conditions, internal organizational conditions and observed benefits on the motivation to advocate IR adoption in companies that have not yet implemented IR. A unique set of survey data from 62 SBMs of Dutch companies was used for analysing the propositions derived from IR literature and based on institutional theory, legitimacy theory and diffusion of innovation theory.FindingsThe respondents indicated to be supportive of IR adoption. SBMs who had experienced the implementation of IR observed that IR offers benefits. Their motives for advocating a change towards IR in companies that had not implemented IR were influenced most by the observed benefits in IR companies. SBMs only involved in companies that had not adopted IR are motivated to support IR adoption to a similar extent. These findings suggest that directly observed benefits by SBMs need to exceed a considerable minimum level before these SBMs are more motived to advocate IR than their peers who have not witnessed the implementation of IR and that experiences are shared across companies. The motivation of both groups is influenced by external market conditions but not by internal organizational conditions.Practical implicationsThe findings have implications for potential IR adopters and institutions promoting the further diffusion of IR as they emphasize the need for tangible benefits of IR and confirm that sharing good practices and benefits of IR can provide a catalyst for IR adoption. The findings contribute to the understanding of the motivation of SBMs as an important organizational condition for implementing IR as this study provides insights in the factors that drive this motivation of key actors influencing the decision to implement IR. Furthermore, the finding that these factors predominantly comprise tangible results and external market conditions is relevant from an organizational change perspective.Social implicationsUnderstanding the mechanisms of IR-adoption decisions provides a relevant basis for deploying programmes promoting IR as a general reporting standard. This could provide society and a broad range of stakeholders with access to information incorporated in integrated reports. It could ultimately have a major impact on society by improving decision-making and increasing the long-term sustainability of organizations and their relations with stakeholders.Originality/valueThis study provides preliminary empirical evidence concerning the perspectives of SBMs on their motives for advocating IR, based on a unique sample from a country that has been involved with IR from its start.