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Exploring Integrated Thinking in action: Theoretical interpretations and evidence from the field

Special issue call for papers from Meditari Accountancy Research

Guest Editors:

Cristiano Busco, Roehampton Business School, UK and LUISS Guido Carli, Italy
Fabrizio Granà, ESCP Europe, London campus, UK
Giulia Achilli, Royal Holloway University of London, UK

What is the special issue about?

Whether presented as a possible rational choice for facing existing challenges (see, among recent contributions, Haller and van Staden, 2014; Adams, 2015; Churet and Eccles, 2015; Serafeim, 2015; Barth et al., 2017), as a ceremonial response to the increasing pressures of markets and society (Higgins et al., 2014; van Bommel, 2014), or as a temporary fad and fashion (Milne and Gray, 2013; Brown and Dillard, 2014; Thomson, 2015; Flower, 2015; de Villiers and Sharma, 2017), Integrated Reporting has rapidly gained considerable prominence as one of the main management and accounting innovations of the recent decade (de Villiers et al., 2014; Eccles and Krzus, 2014; Busco et al., 2018). Integrated Reports are meant to rely on “Integrated Thinking”, an approach that encourages organizations to actively reconsider the relationships between their various operating and functional units, and the capitals (financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, natural, social and relationship) that they use and affect (IIRC, 2013).

Integrated Thinking involves identifying, executing, and monitoring business decisions and strategies for long term value creation (Busco et al. 2017; Dumay and Day, 2017; Guthrie et al. 2017). In particular, this approach enables mediation across a number of trade-offs, such as among others:  the way in which different forms of capital impact on the value creation process; ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) performance with financial and economic results; lagging and leading measures of performance; different types of report (financial, social, environmental, etc.) overcoming the logic of “silos” communication; short-term and long-term objectives (and value creation); the multiple needs of a variety of stakeholders; the analysis of the multiple organizational function and expertise, and organizational units that contribute to the value creation process; value creation for the business (which concerns shareholders, the employees and investors) and for other stakeholders.

Given this background, we are pleased to announce a special issue of Meditari Accountancy Research focused on the general theme of Integrated Thinking. The objective of this special issue is to publish high quality papers, both conceptual studies and empirical analysis based on qualitative as well as quantitative methodological approaches, which explore how Integrated Thinking is practiced within contemporary organizations as well as its theoretical underpinning and interpretations.

Possible topics for contributions include, but are not limited to, the following issues:

  • The role of Integrated Thinking in mediating different logics within organizations
  • Relationships between Integrated Thinking and complexity in reporting process and design
  • Integrated Thinking and global challenges (e.g. SDGs, Climate Change, Carbon footprint)
  • Integrated Thinking and Impact reporting
  • The role Integrated Thinking in overcoming the logic of “silos” communication
  • Integrated Thinking, multiple capitals and value creation process
  • Impact of Integrated Thinking on planning and measuring sustainable strategy
  • Integrated Thinking and new broader forms of Accountability
  • The impact of Integrated Thinking on performance measurement systems
  • The role of organizational leaders as “integrated thinkers”
  • Aligning corporate purpose with sustainable strategy through Integrated Thinking.

Submission instructions:

  • The closing date for submissions for this special issue is December 31, 2019. Manuscripts should be submitted via Scholar One Manuscripts:
  • Please choose the special issue from the list in step 4 of the online submission process when submitting your manuscript
  • All papers will be blind reviewed using Meditari Accountancy Research’s normal procedures
  • All papers must follow the Author guidelines
  • The Guest Editors welcome enquiries in advance of submission and declarations of interest.
  • Enquiries can be sent to the Guest Editors: [email protected] or [email protected] (Cristiano Busco), or  [email protected] (Fabrizio Granà) or [email protected] (Giulia Achilli)

Key dates:

  • December 31, 2019: Submission deadline
  • February 28, 2020: First reviews before this date
  • March – July 2020: Revisions and further review rounds
  • August 2020: Final decisions
  • October 2020: Publication of Special Issue


Adams, C.A., (2015). The international integrated reporting council: a call to action. Critical Perspectives on Accounting. 27, 23-28.
Brown, J., Dillard, J., (2014). Integrated reporting: On the need for broadening out and opening up. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal. 27, 7, 1120-1156.
Busco, C., Granà F., and Quattrone, P. (2017). Integrated Thinking: Aligning purpose and the business model to market opportunities and sustainable. Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.
Busco, C., Giovannoni, E., Granà, F., Izzo, M.F. (2018). Making sustainability meaningful: aspirations, discourses and reporting practices. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 31, 8, 2218-2246.
Churet, C., Eccles, R. G., (2015). Integrated Reporting, Quality of Management, and Financial Performance. Journal of Applied Corporate Finance. 26, 1, 8-16.
de Villiers, C., Rinaldi, L., Unerman, J., (2014). Integrated Reporting: Insights, gaps and an agenda for future research. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal. 27, 7, 1042-1067.
de Villiers, C. & Sharma, U., (2017). A critical reflection on the future of financial, intellectual capital, sustainability and integrated reporting. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, (in press).
Dumay, J. and Dai T., (2017). Integrated thinking as a cultural control?. Meditari Accountancy Research, 25, 4, 574-604.
Eccles, R., Krzus, M.P., (2014). The integrated reporting movement. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.
Flower, J., (2015). The International Integrated Reporting Council: a story of failure. Critical Perspectives on Accounting. 27, 1-17.
Guthrie, J. Manes-Rossi, F. and Levy Orelli, R. (2017). Integrated reporting and integrated thinking in Italian public sector organisations. Meditari Accountancy Research. 25, 4, 553-573.
Haller, A., van Staden, C., (2014). The value added statement – an appropriate instrument for Integrated Reporting. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal. 27, 7, 1190-1216.
Milne, M.J., and Gray, R., (2013). W(h)ither ecology? The triple bottom line, the global reporting initiative, and corporate sustainability reporting. Journal of Business Ethics. 118, 1, 13–29.
van Bommel, K., (2014). Towards a legitimate compromise?: an exploration of Integrated Reporting in the Netherlands. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal. 27, 7, 1157-1189.