Research Methodology

Research Methodology

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2753-4.ch002

Abstract

This chapter clarifies the research methodology adopted for attaining our objective stated previously in this manuscript. The methodology involves two main parts: the development of a survey or questionnaire targeting members of accountancy profession, and the set-up of a prototype framework meant to test the IR adoption in the corporate business environment. We also explain our research questions that represent the fundament for the path of this book. Therefore, we should ask ourselves: What is “integration”? Which information should be included in an integrated report and why? These two questions are answered through the application of the questionnaire and the development and testing of the IR Framework.
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Introduction

The first part of the current research focuses on providing deeper understanding on the meaning of integrated reporting and its impact upon stakeholders. We decided to set up a questionnaire addressed to professional accountants, members of professional accounting bodies, who can meet one or more roles from the below list of internal and external stakeholders: employees, managers, owners1, shareholders, creditors, customers, suppliers, government, and society (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Internal and external stakeholders

Source: www.boundless.com

In addition, we mention the stakeholder classification from the IIRC perspective of focus groups: the accounting profession, regulators and standard setters, companies, investors, intergovernmental organizations, civil society and academia2. We considered an extended range of stakeholders (adding the category of internal stakeholders to this list), because we aimed to investigate how integrated reporting is assimilated in practice, by people performing different roles in an organization, from accountants, to managers, or company owners, who are also members of accountancy profession. Our questionnaire was sent through e-mail to practitioners and members of accountancy profession. We obtained the e-mail addresses from the sites of international accounting professional bodies and from other internal sources within these organizations. In addition, we also used an interactive online platform on which participants could register and complete the questionnaire. We have sent 97 questionnaires to people from accounting sphere: experts, members of accounting professional bodies, managers, employees. We received feedback responses from 69 accounting professionals, members of international professional bodies. Respondents are affiliated to professional accounting bodies, respectively groups of professional accounting bodies, being ACCA students, members of ACCA, CAFR- The Chamber of Financial Auditors of Romania, CECCAR- The Body of Expert and Licensed Accountants of Romania, ACFE- Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, IIA- The Institute of Internal Auditors. In addition, respondents fulfill one or more roles of an internal/external stakeholder, from employees (accountants, controllers, analysts, experts, tax specialists) to managers (including CFOs as top management, seniors, leaders) or owners (associates/main associates of accounting firms), and from creditors (bank operations specialists) to suppliers of financial services (auditors), or training services (trainers). The main categories of respondents are preparers and users of annual reports, accounting firms and organizations. Before beginning with the first set of questions, we asked people to define the level of their understanding and expertise in the area of integrated reporting as slight, moderate average, good, or very good. 32 respondents consider they have a good knowledge in the field of integrated reporting, 9 agree of having an average level of understanding, while 7 believe they hold very good knowledge on IR, 6 asses themselves in as moderate level of understanding the area, and only 2 admit they slightly heard about IR. 13 people choose not to reply to this question, but still we can deduct an overall good level of knowledge and expertise in our sample of respondents. However, we remarked that the number of those having a good expertise in IR is less than half of our sample (32 out of a total of 69 respondents). At the end of the questionnaire, we included a section for personal suggestions or additional comments one would like to add (see Appendix 4).

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