Wrapping: an artistic device used in the integration of corporate reporting

Lana Sabelfeld*, John Dumay, Barbara Czarniawska

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Purpose: This study explores the integration of corporate reporting by Mitsubishi, a large Japanese company, using a culturally sensitive narrative that combines and reconciles Japanese and Western corporate values in one story.

Design/methodology/approach: We use an analytical framework drawing on insights borrowed from narratology and the notion of wrapping – the traditional art of packaging as communication.

Findings: We find that Mitsubishi is a survivor company that uses different corporate reporting frameworks during its reporting journey to construct a bespoke narrative of its value creation and cultural values. It emplots narratives to convey a story presenting the impression that Mitsubishi is a Japanese corporation but is compatible with Western neo-liberal ideology, making bad news palatable to its stakeholders and instilling confidence in the future.

Research limitations/implications: Wrapping is a culturally sensitive form of impression management used in the integration of corporate reporting. Therefore, rather than assuming that companies blatantly manipulate their image in corporate reports, we suggest that future research should focus on how narratives are constructed and made sense of, situating them in the context of local culture and traditions.

Practical implications: The findings should interest scholars, report preparers, policymakers, and the IFRS, considering the recent release of the IFRS Sustainability Disclosure Standards designed to reduce the so-called alphabet soup of corporate reporting. By following Mitsubishi’s journey, we learn how and why the notion of integrated reporting was adopted and integrated with other reporting frameworks to create narratives that together convey a story of a global corporation compliant with Western neoliberal ideology. It highlights how Mitsubishi used integrated reporting to tell its story rather than as a rigid reporting framework, and the same fate may apply to the new IFRS Sustainability Reporting Standards that now include integrated reporting.

Originality/value: The study offers a new perspective on corporate reporting, showing how the local societal discourses of cultural heritage and modernity can shape the journey of the integration of corporate reporting over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-191
Number of pages32
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Volume37
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024, Lana Sabelfeld, John Dumay and Barbara Czarniawska. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Culture
  • Integration of corporate reporting
  • Japan
  • Narratives
  • The art of wrapping

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