Integrated reporting and the performativity of intellectual capital

  • Silvano Corbella
  • Cristina Florio
  • Alice Francesca Sproviero
  • Riccardo StacchezziniEmail author


The research investigates how intellectual capital (IC) is problematised in the context of integrated reporting. Drawing on a performative approach to IC, the paper explores the role of organisational actors in defining, classifying and valuing IC within the process of preparing an integrated report (IR). The analysis relies on in-depth interviews with IR preparers of a European oil and gas company that has been issuing IRs since 2012 and considers IC to be a core element of its business model and value creation story. The case study reveals that IC definition, classification and valuation stimulate ongoing interaction among various actors. An active role is played by the staff of the department responsible for the IR preparation process, but also by organisational actors who are not directly involved in this process and by external actors, such as the company’s peers, IIRC representatives and the company’s accounting advisors. Some sketches, matrixes and maps inspired by the IIRC Framework (i.e., the business model sketch, the KPIs matrix and the connectivity map) were pivotal in defining concepts and categories of IC and its connection to value creation, although the quantification of IC’s effect on value creation remains disputed. In showing how organisational actors problematise and engage with IC inscriptions within the process of IR preparation, the paper enriches the scant research that examines the performativity of IC in the context of corporate external reporting and answers the call for more research on how IC affects the management of organisations.


Intellectual capital Integrated reporting Performative approach Connectivity maps Oil and gas company 



The authors are grateful to the guest editors and the reviewers for their insightful comments. The authors also recognize the kind availability of the Financial Reporting manager and other interviewees at the case study company. In its earlier version, the article benefited from the feedback provided by the attendees at the IX Financial Reporting Workshop (Bologna, June 2018) and the 13th Interdisciplinary Workshop on «Intangibles & Intellectual Capital». Value creation, integrated reporting and governance (Ancona, September 2017). The authors are thankful to the scientific committee of this latter workshop for conferring a Special Mention. While the paper is the result of a joint effort of the authors, Silvano Corbella wrote Section 4.3 (with Cristina Florio), Cristina Florio wrote Sections 3, 4.1 and 4.3 (this latter with Silvano Corbella), Alice Francesca Sproviero wrote Sections 4.2 and 6, and Riccardo Stacchezzini wrote Sections 1, 2 and 5.


The research benefited from funds obtained within the “Ricerca di Base 2015” project of the University of Verona (Italy).


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of VeronaVeronaItaly

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