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Is It Time for Integrated Reporting in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises? Reflections on an Italian Experience

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Corporate Social Responsibility and Governance

Part of the book series: CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance ((CSEG))

Abstract

In recent decades, several contributions have addressed the debate on the diffusion of the integrated reporting approach. Why would a company decide to combine its financial, social and environmental performance into a single report? Does the integrated report represent the best tool of accountability and the best solution? If so, why and for which companies? Studies and empirical research in this area have been mainly addressed to large enterprises, neglecting the integrated reporting of small and medium-sized business (SMEs) and the factors that may facilitate the adoption and its effectiveness.

Departing from these premises, the work focuses on the relationship between financial reporting and social, environmental and sustainability reporting both through a literature review and the empirical analysis, relative to a case-study and based on the action research methodology, which has been recently developed in the context of social and environmental research, through the direct involvement with the company under investigation.

The paper aims to fill the aforementioned gap and to offer lines of reflection on the benefits capable of being derived from the adoption of integrated reporting (greater clarity about relationships and commitments, deeper engagement with all stakeholders, better decisions with economic, social and environmental merit and lower reputational risks) and their relationship with specific SMEs’ attributes. The empirical analysis – referred to an Italian SME, not listed, which is among the first to have introduced the global report- allows us to identify the benefits of integrated reporting and verifying how these stem from the orientation to sustainability and to the level of responsibility of the entrepreneur. The findings of the study suggest that when an authentic commitment to social responsibility, sustainability and transparent disclosure exists, the integrated report improves corporate disclosure and acts as a driver for stakeholders’ dialogue and stakeholders’ commitment.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    www.worldwici.com; www.wici-global.com

  2. 2.

    Models of reporting are attributable to due categories of standards: performance-oriented standards (which define the minimum standards required for a social responsible approach, i.e. OECD and Global Compact) and process-oriented standard and guidelines which recommend procedures and elements to define the process of social reporting and stakeholders engagement (i.e., GRI and Accountability 1000).

  3. 3.

    Integrated Reporting Committee (IRC) – South Africa. http://www.sustainability.sa.org; www.saica.co.za

  4. 4.

    Among the internal factors we can cite the organizational structures, internal micro-processes, attitudes, points of view and perceptions. The corporate characteristics are related to size, sector and age of the business, while the general contextual factors include economic, political and cultural factors.

  5. 5.

    The Sodalitas Social Award honors businesses that operate in Italy who are distinguished for implementing projects with high value and social content.

  6. 6.

    The Q-RES Project was created by the Centre for Ethics, Law & Economics (CELE) in collaboration with associations, businesses and non-profit organizations; http://nt-notes.liuc.it/ricerca/cele.nsf

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Del Baldo, M. (2015). Is It Time for Integrated Reporting in Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises? Reflections on an Italian Experience. In: Idowu, S., Frederiksen, C., Mermod, A., Nielsen, M. (eds) Corporate Social Responsibility and Governance. CSR, Sustainability, Ethics & Governance. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-10909-1_9

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