In pursuit of a ‘single source of truth’: from threatened legitimacy to integrated reporting

Cornelia Beck, John Dumay, Geoffrey Frost*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores one organisation’s journey into non-financial reporting, initially motivated by a crisis in public confidence that threatened the organisation’s legitimacy to the present with the organisation embracing integrated reporting. The organisation’s journey is framed through a legitimation lens and is illustrated by aligning internal reflections with external outputs guided by predominant paradigms of good practice, such as the GRI guidelines and more recently integrated reporting 〈IR〉. We find that the organisation’s relationship with external guidelines has evolved from pragmatic adoption as a means of seeking external legitimation to the present position where those that prepare external reports are informed by the organisation’s strategic positioning and not constrained by the promulgation of voluntary guidelines. From the case study, we suggest that the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) may face two hurdles: First, organisations may define social norms based on a broader definition of stakeholders than the definition currently published by the IIRC. The second hurdle is to convince report preparers that adopting integrated reporting 〈IR〉 will positively impact on capital flows.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-205
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Australia
  • Case study
  • Integrated reporting
  • Legitimacy theory
  • Non-financial reporting
  • Reporting


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