Social capital and integrated reporting: Losing legitimacy when reporting talk is not supported by actions

Federica Casonato, Federica Farneti, John Dumay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To present the continuation of a case study by Beck et al. (2017) on an Australian bank (CBD) during the period 2004–2013 by examining whether integrated reporting affects relational capital and helps to repair an organisations’ reputation. Both studies examine how a bank rocked by a major scandal in 2004 has attempted to repair its legitimacy through integrated reporting. The paper aims to discuss these issue.

Design/methodology/approach: This study is a post facto analysis based on the original research from Beck et al. (2017). The research process involved a case study approach with an analysis framed by impression management theory to investigate whether the information in CBD’s integrated reports is consistent with other information available to investors.

Findings: The authors find there is a gap between what CBD discloses in its integrated reports and what is publicly available in other media. CBD’s talk and actions are not aligned, and that asymmetry translates into a decline of trust in CBD. The bank’s integrated reports reveal how management discloses or withholds information to protect their own interests and at their own discretion. These conclusions indicate that the integrated reporting paradigm is being co-opted by IM strategies to improve legitimacy through trust, reputation and social capital.

Research limitations/implications: Future research needs to reach beyond the organisational boundaries and understand if it adds value for society, or is just a new form of multicapitalism, being an ideology to help the rich become richer? The answers are important if we ever hope to see misconduct disappear from our corporations and for company reports to become documents bearing truth and not espouse rhetoric based on organisational hypocrisy.

Originality/value: The paper adds to the growing body of research investigating in practice to understand the impact of and whether it is a new and useful reporting tool or just another management fashion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-164
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Intellectual Capital
Issue number1
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2019


  • Australia
  • Banking
  • Impression management
  • Integrated reporting
  • Reputation
  • Social capital


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