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Exploring forward-looking information in integrated reporting: A multi-dimensional analysis

Elisa Menicucci

Journal of Applied Accounting Research, 2018, vol. 19, issue 1, 102-121

Abstract: Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of firm characteristics on forward-looking disclosure (forward-looking information (FLI)) within the context of integrated reporting (IR). The study assesses the extent of FLI provided in integrated reports and empirically fills the research gap into the topics of FLI disclosed in the IR. Design/methodology/approach - A manual content analysis is run to investigate the level and the topics of FLI in 282 integrated reports available in the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) website. A disclosure index composition consisting of 27 information items is developed from the list of content elements comprised in the Integrated Reporting Framework (IIRC, 2013). Three hypotheses are proposed and eight models are tested within a multivariate regression analysis in order to explore the effects of three main variables (firm size, profitability and leverage) on FLI. Findings - The study confirms that firms are reluctant to provide FLI in integrated reports. The results show that profitability and firm size have a statistically significant relationship with the level of specific topics of FLI. Conversely, leverage is found to be insignificant in explaining the extent of FLI. Research limitations/implications - To improve the reliability of findings presented in this study, several others may be conducted by inspecting more variables that may affect the extent of FLI or by increasing the number of companies included in the sample. Practical implications - The results provide comprehensive insights into the current forward-looking disclosure practices of early adopters in integrated reports and can be a useful evidence for preparers of it. This paper has also practical implications especially for managers and regulators (e.g. IIRC) since it encourages further efforts to promote FLI if firms want that the disclosure offered in the IR is perceived as “informative” by their significant stakeholders. Originality/value - The research adds to the prior disclosure literature concerning FLI since acquired results are ambiguous. There are a very restricted number of studies that have explained the variation of FLI in the light of firm characteristics and no study has analyzed this research topic within the context of IR.

Keywords: Firm characteristics; Disclosure; Integrated reporting; Forward-looking information (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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