With the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (IIRC) ‘momentum phase’ getting underway, the French Autorité des Normes Comptables (ANC, French Accounting Standardisation Setter) commissioned academics Delphine Gibassier (Audencia Business School), Carol Adams (Durham University Business School and Swinburne Business School) and Tiphaine Jerome (University of Grenobles Alpes) to undertake new research into the uptake of integrated reporting. Their research reveals that integrated reporting has matured into fast-paced diffusion around the world.

They found that 21 countries account for more than 85% of known reporters. The top two countries are South Africa and Japan which together account for 43% of reports identified. But there was also a high concentration of integrated reporters in Asia with 25 reports from Sri Lanka and a total of 28 from India, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Taiwan combined.

In contrast, it appears that more developed countries are lagging.  For example, in Canada and Germany, there were only about 20 companies each doing integrated reporting and only 25 in the US, (29 in 2019 according to the US <IR> community website).

Industries, such as banking, insurance, wholesale and retail where ‘intangibles’ (such as intellectual or social and relationship capitals) are particularly important are more inclined to prepare integrated reports. The chemicals/rubber/plastics industry is also one of the most prolific integrated reporters and includes leaders like Akzo Nobel who developed integrated reports before the International <IR> Framework was published. The number of companies with more than 5,000 employees represents only 58% of those preparing integrated reports with 28% from medium-sized enterprises and 14% from small enterprises.

A little over half of the reports noted that they use GRI Standards in preparing the<IR> integrated reports, bringing into question said the IIRC, the degree to which they are achieving integration of sustainability issues.

The majority (61%) of companies do not mention the International <IR> Framework explicitly and for these the depth of integration is relatively low. For these, the most common element of the International <IR> Framework adopted was the business model, often through a how “we create value” type of visual.  Those reports explicitly referencing the International <IR> Framework (39% of the sample), displayed a relatively high level of adoption with many elements of the Framework present.

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