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Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 505-532; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-11-2016-0094

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to discuss the most critical aspects relative to the “usability” of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) Framework faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in releasing the integrated report and adapting the Integrated Reporting (IR) principles (i.e. materiality, integrated thinking and connectivity) to their needs and features. Only recently the relevance of IR for SMEs has been internationally acknowledged. Design/methodology/approach The study is based on both a deductive and inductive approach. The first one is founded on a literature and technical review aimed at tracing the theoretical background and the framework on integrating reporting in SMEs. The second one is empirically constructed and follows the action research approach because it involves the analysis of a single case-study relative to a company – Costa Edutainment Spa that released its pioneering integrated report in 2014 – belonging to the Italian Network on Business Reporting, a working group which has been involved in the pivotal drafting process of a Guidance for IR in SMEs. Findings Results emphasise the main criticalities faced by an SME in the IR process, namely, the need for the following: clearly defining the relationship between sustainability and integrated reporting; adapting the main IR concepts (such us materiality, integrated thinking and connectivity) and fully understanding the benefits deriving from the implementation of IR. Moreover, results shed light on the usefulness of a simplified and operative guidance for releasing the integrated report within SMEs the effectiveness deriving from the direct involvement in the NIBR working group and the provision of practical examples and suggestions. Research limitations/implications The main limitations are due to the fact that the empirical analysis is related to a single case study, and it is explorative in nature. Consequently, results are not generalisable. However, the work contributes to nourish the debate on the benefits and critical issues relative to the diffusion of IR among SMEs in a research field which has not been adequately investigated and to develop reflections on the benefits of the diffusion of the IR among SMEs, pointing out the opportunity to follow an evolutionary path which drives the evolution of the entrepreneurial and organisational culture towards monitoring, assessing and reporting the company’s value process creation. Practical implications The work contributes to triggering the debate on the diffusion of IR among SMEs which represents a research field that remains still under investigated. It points out a fundamental gap on how to implement IR in SMEs and operationalise the IIRC concepts and principles. It develops reflections on the critical issues and benefits of the diffusion of the IR among SMEs. Drawing from a pioneering experience, the work contributes to supporting entrepreneurs by emphasising the possible benefits deriving from the implementation of the IR process. It suggests an evolutionary path through different steps (starting from the business model definition) which are necessary to drive the entrepreneurial and organisational culture towards monitoring, assessing and reporting the SMEs’ value process creation. Originality/value The work contributes to devoting the attention of both scholars and practitioners to an underestimated research field – the “feasibility of IR in the SMEs context – which has not been yet adequately investigated. Moreover, being empirically based, it helps in supporting the diffusion of the IR framework among SMEs, practitioners and consultants by providing insights aimed to improve the IR Guidance for SMEs and sensitise entrepreneurs by emphasising that a possible step-by-step “IR journey” is possible.
Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 629-653; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-07-2017-0165

Abstract:
Purpose This is an exploratory study to investigate the readability of integrated reports. The aim of this paper is to assess whether integrated reports are accessible to their readership and add value to stakeholders. Design/methodology/approach Readability analyses are performed on the integrated reports of all companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange for 2015 and 2016. Readability results are compared by means of a correlation analysis to the results of the Ernst & Young Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards for 2015. Findings The results show that the complex nature of the language used in integrated reports of listed companies impairs readability and, as an implication, affects the value stakeholders can derive from the information. The results from the correlation with the Ernst & Young Excellence in Integrated Reporting Awards indicate that an integrated report is considered of higher quality if it is written using complex language. Research limitations/implications The main limitation of the study lies in its exclusively South African setting, which is the only country where integrated reports are recommended as part of stock exchange listings requirements. Another limitation is the fact that integrated reports are mainly aimed at informed users and is thus compiled with the informed reader in mind, which impacts on general readability. Practical implications The results present new findings regarding integrated reporting practice, which is of interest to firms, investors, regulators, amongst others. The findings show how the value-added by integrated reports could be improved. Originality/value This study is the first to investigate the readability of integrated reports in a South African context. The results indicate that integrated reports are difficult to read and are only useful to a portion of the total intended population.
Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 675-704; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-11-2016-0098

Abstract:
Purpose: The scope of the study is to analyze an Italian family firm operating in the transformation and marketing of durum wheat to investigate the degree of accountability of the integrated reporting (IR) disclosed by the organization. Design/methodology/approach: The paper uses a case study approach proposing a specific research template to evaluate the implementation of IR depicting the role of three main dimensions: stakeholder involvement, business model and integration. Findings: The paper enriches theoretical conceptualization of the implementation of IR proposing a new conceptual model that adds empirical findings to the literature on IR and at the same time addresses the call for studies of Dumay et al. (2016) to engage more with practice and development on IR. Research limitations/implications: The use of a specific research framework constitutes both the main strength of the paper and also its main limit, as the dimensions of the framework have been chosen by the authors, and the observations and conclusions are based on the authors’ analysis under an interpretative approach. Practical implications: The implementation of the same research framework to other organizational IR documents could allow comparisons to be expressed on the quality of the IR disclosed by different organizations and on the same organization in different periods of time. Originality/value: The main originality of this paper is the creation and the employment of a specific template to analyze the degree of accountability of the case study selected representing a non-listed Italian company operating in the food industry.
Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 450-460; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-07-2017-0183

Abstract:
Purpose: This paper aims to develop a conceptual model for examining the development of integrated reporting, relate the articles in this Meditari Accountancy Research special issue on integrated reporting to the model and identify areas for future research. Design/methodology/approach: The paper uses a narrative/discursive style to summarise key findings from the articles in the special issue and develop a normative research agenda. Findings: The findings of the prior literature, as well as the articles in this special issue, support the conceptual model developed in this paper. This new conceptual model can be used in multiple ways. Originality/value: The special issue draws on some of the latest developments in integrated reporting from multiple jurisdictions. Different theoretical frameworks and methodologies, coupled with primary evidence on integrated reporting, construct a pluralistic assessment of integrated reporting, which can be used as a basis for future research. The new conceptual model developed in this paper can be used as an organising framework; a way of understanding and thinking about the various influences; a way of identifying additional factors to control for in a study; and/or a way of identifying new, interesting and underexplored research questions.
Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 533-552; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-02-2017-0113

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to understand how the principle of materiality gets implemented in integrated reporting (IR) contexts. Design/methodology/approach Drawing on an interpretation of materiality as a social construction, this research explores the meaning that practitioners attach to the principle during their implementation of it. Following an existing framework for exploring materiality in corporate reporting, this study investigates the meaning by focusing on who participates in determining IR materiality and to whom the IR is addressed. This analysis benefits from in-depth interviews with persons involved in the preparation of IR for a firm that pioneered this form of reporting. Findings In IR preparers’ view, the meaning of materiality corresponds with the company strategy: The IR describes strategic priorities and related actions and results. Capital providers are the primary intended addressees of the material information. Although several actors engage in IR preparation, the materiality determination process is governed by a specific “IR hub” in strict collaboration with and dependence on the chief financial officer. Research limitations/implications In an IR context, materiality is intimately connected to the function that preparers assign to the report. Originality/value This novel research opens the “black box” of the process by which materiality gets defined and then practically implemented in an IR context.
Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 461-480; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-05-2017-0150

Abstract:
Purpose This paper is motivated by the call for feedback by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) from all stakeholders with knowledge of the International Integrated Reporting Framework () and specifically of the enablers, incentives and barriers to its implementation. The paper synthesises insights from contemporary accounting research into integrated reporting (IR) as a general concept and as espoused by the IIRC in the (IIRC, 2013). The authors specifically focus on possible barriers and emphasise the specific issues the authors feel could be rectified to advance the , along with the areas that may potentially hinder its wider adoption and implementation. Design/methodology/approach The paper draws upon and synthesises academic analysis and insights provided in the IR and academic literature as well as various directives, policy and framework pronouncements. Findings The flexibility and lack of prescription concerning actual disclosures and metrics in the could allow it to be used for compliance, regardless of the other benefits lauded by the IIRC. Thus the authors see forces, both external and internal, driving adoption, with one prominent example being the European Union Directive on non-financial reporting. Because of the different ways in which IR is understood and enacted, there are numerous theoretical and empirical challenges for academics. The authors paper highlights potential areas for further robust academic research and the need to contribute to policy and practice. Research limitations/implications The paper provides the IIRC, academics, regulators and reporting organisations with insights into current practice and the . The authors highlight the need for further development and evidence to help inform improvements both from a policy and a practice perspective. A key limitation of the authors’ work is that the authors draw upon a synthesis of the existing literature which is still in an early stage of development. Originality/value The paper provides the IIRC with several insights into the current and specifically with the enablers, incentives and barriers to its implementation. Also, it provides academic researchers with a number of important observations and an agenda upon which the authors can build their future research.
Mary-Anne McNally, ,
Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 481-504; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-10-2016-0085

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to add to the limited body of interpretive research on integrated reporting by exploring challenges to preparing an integrated report. This is done using an integrated thinking framework which stresses the importance of an interconnection between sustainability performance, proactive sustainability management and integrated reporting. Design/methodology/approach Detailed interviews with 26 preparers at 9 South African-based organisations highlight practical issues encountered when producing an integrated report. Findings Integrated reporting is not consistently seen as a natural part of the business process, despite the relevance of multiple types of capital for organisations’ business models. The new report format is imposed on existing internal processes and reporting protocols which precludes a broad understanding of the purpose of integrated reporting and limits the development of management control systems and a supporting accounting infrastructure. In this constrained environment, reporting guidelines are used as disclosure checklists, stakeholder engagement is limited, systems are not always compatible and data analysis is difficult. Preparers are also unconvinced that integrated reports are taken seriously by investors, further limiting the interconnection between sustainability performance and integrated reporting. Research limitations/implications Those charged with governance need to ensure that their organisations are identifying so-called non-financial issues as strategically relevant. Sustainability performance targets need to be clearly defined and linked to specific performance indicators. The management control systems and accounting infrastructure must be planned and developed to assist with the monitoring of sustainability performance and, in turn, to inform what information is included in integrated reports. Originality/value This study answers the calls for primary evidence on how integrated reports are prepared and the associated challenges. The findings add to the limited body of interpretive research on the functioning of corporate governance and accounting systems and offers practical insights for preparers and academics.
Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 574-604; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-07-2016-0067

Abstract:
Purpose The paper’s purpose is to investigate the concept of integrated thinking as part of the International Integrated Reporting Council’s (IIRC’s) Integrated Reporting () framework. It explores integrated thinking as a cultural control and analyses how it operates. Design/methodology/approach The paper presents a case study of ResBank (a pseudonym), a small Australian bank, which is participating in the IIRC’s Pilot Programme Business Network. ResBank issued its first integrated report in 2012. Using semi-structured interviews, we examine whether integrated thinking develops as espoused by the IIRC. Findings In ResBank’s case, we find that the responsible banking culture that was in place prior to joining the Pilot Programme is a stronger cultural control, alongside personnel, results and action controls. The implication for the IIRC is that integrated thinking clashes with the existing organisational culture rather than driving a new organisational culture. Practical implications If integrated thinking is to prevail, it may become a source of inertia rather than change because it advocates that an entire workforce should think the same way. We also question whether breaking down silos, as advocated by integrated thinking, is necessary across all organisational functions, especially concerning material organisational risks and reputation, because these silos foster independent thinking. Social implications The problem with the arguments proposed by the IIRC is that they aim at a one-size-fits-all approach. Not every organisation has a disconnection between strategy, governance, past performance and future prospects nor do they all have disconnected departments that need reconnecting. Therefore, a fundamental problem with is that the IIRC argues ‘why’ companies need , not ‘how’ to implement , and especially not ‘how’ to operationalise integrated thinking. Originality/value The paper is a must-read because it contributes to the growing debate on the benefits of by examining and critiquing an early adopter’s practice.
Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 553-573; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-06-2017-0155

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to explore the linkages between integrated reporting (IR) and organisations’ internal processes, specifically focusing on investigating the internal mechanisms of change that can lead organisations to adopt IR disclosure and how this impacts on integrated thinking internally. Design/methodology/approach The paper draws upon previous analysis and insights provided in the IR academic literature, as well as analysing several directives, policy and framework pronouncements. The study also draws on the management accounting change literature, using it as a lens to observe early adopters’ practice. In addition, it provides detailed case studies considering the internal processes of change in five early adopters of the integrated reporting framework () and whether the adoption leads to internal “integrated thinking”. Five Italian public sector organisations are analysed, and the authors make use of official documents, press releases and in-depth semi-structured interviews with the major internal actors. Findings The research highlights that the processes of change in organisations adopting IR is their adoption of a way of thinking, that is, integrated thinking, as a result of the process of internalisation. Research limitations/implications Given the short history of IR, this sample is small due to the small number of early adopters. Originality/value The paper provides academics and policymakers with insights into the process of change to be considered while adopting the and responds to calls in the IR literature for further field-based studies on IR’s impact on internal processes. Also, the paper highlights that the European Directive on the disclosure of non-financial and diversity information (2014/95/EU) has the potential to increase environmental, social and governance disclosures amongst European companies.
, Renier van Zyl,
Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 654-674; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-03-2016-0052

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to report on the long-term effect of integrated reporting on the quality of information. Investors and stakeholders rely on high-quality integrated reports to obtain social, environmental and ethical information for decision-making. A striking weakness found in recent research on integrated reports is the way certain items of social, environmental and ethical information are excluded while other items are repeated. There is accordingly much confusion, clutter and fragmentation in the integrated reporting landscape. Design/methodology/approach Through a detailed content review of the information companies report on, more insight can be gained into this question five years after the mandatory implementation of King III, which requires companies to provide integrated reports. This study used a similar approach to that of Solomon and Maroun (2012), reviewing the integrated reports of four companies with high social and environmental impact, over a period of three years (2012 to 2014). Findings The companies’ integrated reports were reviewed in terms of social, environmental and ethical items. The results indicate that there has been a distinct decrease in the amount of information provided in integrated reports but, more importantly, there still exists significant uncertainty as to the amount of reporting that is required. Originality/value The results of this study prove that regulators may have to provide more detailed guidelines as to the reporting duties of companies. It also indicates to managers that their approach to integrated reporting may have to be revised to ensure useful information is provided to stakeholders.
Published: 2 October 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 605-628; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-11-2016-0099

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the implementation of the integrated reporting (IR) framework in a group of Colombian enterprises. Design/methodology/approach This is a multiple-case study in six enterprises that use the IR framework. The selected enterprises, all of which were located in either Bogota or Medellin, were Argos, EEB, EPM, ISA, Nutresa and Ocensa. The authors conducted individual interviews of reporters and performed a documentary analysis. Findings The few Colombian firms that use the IR framework all have ambitious expansion goals in the medium term. The main reason for the adoption of the IR framework in these firms is that it facilitates access to resources from new foreign investors. Research limitations/implications Since the framework was published recently, only a few Colombian firms follow it, and several of them do not apply all of its components. In the future, there will be more reports and a higher level of framework application. Practical implications In the firms studied, the IR framework is an important tool to support the search strategies of new sources of financial capital. Social implications If the use of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) framework were to diminish the application of the GRI, firms would be less likely to evaluate the impact of their activities on numerous stakeholders (other than shareholders). Originality/value This is the first Colombian study of IR to include both documentary analysis and personal interviews.
Lee Parker
Published: 10 August 2015
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 23, pp 142-157; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-03-2015-0018

Abstract:
Purpose – This paper aims to contextualise and critically evaluate the state of accounting historiography, its past and future agenda as a foundation for future scholars’ design and pursuit of accounting history research. Design/methodology/approach – Focussing on the historiographic accounting history literature, the paper draws on prior state-of-the-art reviews as well as a range of contemporary accounting history research studies to provide an overview of the accounting history community internationally, its emergence, institutions, theories and methodologies. Findings – Accounting history researchers are identified now as an established and growing international community of scholars, increasingly diverse in national origins and focus, yet still on the threshold of moving beyond its specialist literature into general accounting and history research literatures. Nonetheless, their historiography exhibits a vibrant theoretical and methodological discourse that has laid the foundations for expanding opportunities in both research subjects and approaches available for study. Research limitations/implications – Theoretical and methodological proliferation offers a wealth of options for further research in this field, in terms of subject matter focus and in terms of innovative and insightful approaches to their investigation. Practical implications – Findings already available in the accounting history literature offer useful foundational understandings that have the potential to better inform contemporary policy and practice decision-makers. Originality/value – The paper provides a reference point for emerging and established scholars in accounting history, presenting a summary of their underlying historical institutional and historiographic development contexts and offering a research agenda based on theoretical and methodological diversity.
Jill Atkins,
Published: 10 August 2015
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 23, pp 197-221; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-07-2014-0047

Abstract:
Purpose – This paper aims to explore the initial reactions of the South African institutional investment community to the first sets of integrated reports being prepared by companies listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange. The research highlights a shift in attitude towards ESG and integrated reporting, initial views on the first sets of integrated reports and obstacles to the preparation of high-quality reports. The study also includes recommendations for preparers. Design/methodology/approach – Detailed interviews are carried out with 20 experts from the South African institutional investment industry. Interpretive thematic analysis is used to identify themes and principles and construct an initial assessment of the investors’ views on South African integrated reporting. Findings – The new reporting framework is seen as an improvement on the traditional annual report of South African listed companies. In general, there is more emphasis on non-financial measures and evidence of an effort to integrate financial and environmental, social and governance metrics to provide a better understanding of organisational sustainability. The length of reports, repetition and a check box approach to reporting does, however, detract from the usefulness of the reports and undermine the development of an integrated thinking ethos. Research limitations/implications – The study is limited to exploring the views of only a single group of stakeholders at one point in time. The reader’s attention is also drawn to the fact that the study was carried out before the International Integrated Reporting Council’s framework for integrated reporting was applied by South African preparers. Nevertheless, its interpretive style allows identification of challenges to effective integrated reporting. Originality/value – This paper is the first to examine the views of institutional investors and analysts on South African integrated reports. It makes an important contribution to the academic literature by adding to the limited body of research on integrated reporting and corporate governance in an African setting. The study is also important for practitioners seeking to improve the quality of their integrated reports and for academics wanting to understand the problems and possible strategies for addressing these.
Marina Kirstein,
Published: 10 August 2015
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 23, pp 222-246; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-06-2013-0025

Abstract:
Purpose – The aim of this paper is to report on the development and implementation of two student-centred teaching approaches, not usually thought to be appropriate for large group situations. These projects involved adapting teaching methods to facilitate a move away from the conventional lecturer-centred approach (the “chalk-and-talk” of earlier generations) and to respond to an environment challenged by the perpetually changing requirements of professional bodies, increasingly large classes and high student-staff ratios. Design/methodology/approach – Two student-centred projects were implemented at a South African residential university in the discipline of auditing, and the topic of general controls in the information technology (IT) environment was addressed. This study reports on two cycles of the development and implementation of the projects following an action research methodology. Findings – It was found that “non-standard” teaching practices can be implemented successfully and that active student involvement, even in a large class environment, is achievable and is therefore recommended, not least because this could positively impact on students’ overall skills development. The action research methodology was successfully used to incorporate changes, enforced by the challenges accounting academics are faced with. Research limitations/implications – Limitations associated with this study are that it was conducted at only one South African university, and that it was in a specific and technical topic within the single field of auditing. The study also did not measure whether deep or surface learning had taken place. As various factors contribute to learning, it was also not possible to report on whether positive changes to students’ normal learning processes have been achieved as a result of the initiatives. Originality/value – The contribution this study makes is twofold. First, it adds to the field of accounting education research by indicating that student-centred projects can successfully address the abovementioned challenges faced by accounting academics. Second, it demonstrates that action research, as a methodology for examining and developing accounting education, can be used effectively by academics to improve their teaching practices.
Published: 10 August 2015
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 23, pp 175-196; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-02-2015-0009

Abstract:
Purpose – This article aims to review popular frameworks used to examine fraud and earmarks three areas where there is considerable scope for academic research to guide and inform important debates within organisations and regulatory bodies. Design/methodology/approach – The article reviews published fraud research in the fields of auditing and forensic accounting, focusing on the development of the dominant framework in accounting and fraud examination, the fraud triangle. From this review, specific avenues for future research are identified. Findings – Three under-researched issues are identified: rationalisation of fraudulent behaviours by offenders; the nature of collusion in fraud; and regulatory attempts to promote whistle-blowing. These topics highlight the perspective of those directly involved in fraud and draw together issues that have interested researchers in other disciplines for decades with matters that are at the heart of contemporary financial management across the globe. Originality/value – In spite of the profound economic and reputational impact of fraud, the research in accounting remains fragmented and emergent. This review identifies avenues offering scope to bridge the divide between academia and practice.
, , , Evrim Hacioglu Kazak
Published: 14 August 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 391-413; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-11-2016-0100

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to measure Garanti Bank’s corporate sustainability performance along with the main indicators of economic, social and environmental factors, taking into consideration of the governance indicators. Design/methodology/approach Recent global economic developments indicate that the main corporate sustainability indicators of economic, environmental and social factors are insufficient for the sustainability practices of the companies. Along with these indicators, a good administrative structure should be evaluated as a whole to measure the sustainability performance. For measuring corporate sustainability performance of the bank along with the economic, environmental, social and governance dimensions of corporate sustainability, content analysis, entropy and technique for order preference by similarity to ideal solution (TOPSIS) methods are used with a total of four corporate sustainability reports published by Garanti Bank within the period of 2010-2014. Findings The results depict that the sustainability performance of Garanti Bank tends to increase during the time span. Among all dimensions, economic dimension has the highest impact on overall sustainability performance, as it has the highest weight in entropy. On contrary, governance dimension has the lowest impact on overall performance. Research limitations/implications This paper has implications in enhancing the understanding of corporate sustainability measurement both using content analysis, and TOPSIS particularly in a developing country, although it is limited by the size of the corporate sustainability reports and time span. Originality/value This paper attempts to reveal an emerging banking sector specific corporate sustainability materiality. This is the first study in Turkey which includes both qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques considering the content analysis and TOPSIS.
Sandra Khalil, Patrick O’Sullivan
Published: 14 August 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 414-446; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-10-2016-0082

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide further insight into internet social and environmental reporting (ISER) in the Middle East by investigating the ISER of Lebanese banks as well as their greenwashing behaviour and identifying its extent, quality and association with different variables such as profitability, size, religion and other variables. Design/methodology/approach This study adopted a mixed methodology. Interviews were conducted to seek the opinions of banks towards corporate social responsibility (CSR). Content analysis of bank’s websites was used to examine the extent, quality and association of ISER with several bank characteristics. Findings The results show the prevalent use of ISER and greenwashing by Lebanese banks. The most disclosed category of ISER is community, whereas the least disclosed is environment. The study found a positive association between ISER and bank profitability, size, leverage and ownership concentration and an insignificant relationship with age and religion. Research limitations/implications The authors recognise that the sample is small and addresses a single context and that it could have been expanded to other Middle Eastern contexts. However, the study is exploratory focusing on the Lebanese banking sector which is one of the most developed in the region. Further longitudinal studies could also be conducted to complement the work. The process used to measure greenwashing could be enhanced by addressing the materiality of CSR disclosures to stakeholders and the purpose of communicating CSR information. Practical implications In light of the empirical findings, banks will gain a better understanding of the status and importance of ISER and will understand the risks of greenwashing leading them towards higher standard ISER and more ethical activities, which will have a positive impact on the Lebanese economy and society. Originality/value This study examines almost all aspects of online social and environmental disclosures including the webpage, CSR sections in addition to online published reports; it is an investigation about ISER with reference to Lebanon which has perhaps the most significant banking sector in the Middle East. It tackles the greenwashing issue in a new context and in a different way by examining its association with several variables. The study also investigates the association between religion and ISER which has seldom been tackled in similar studies.
Noor Adwa Sulaiman
Published: 14 August 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 351-367; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-08-2016-0074

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the conduct of the audit committee (AC) in terms of its oversight role of audit quality in the UK. Design/methodology/approach This study uses semi-structured interviews with 11 AC members and 11 audit partners. Findings The findings show that the conduct of the AC in relation to audit quality involves the assessment of the contents of the reports prepared by the external auditors for the AC. Furthermore, the oversight of audit quality by the AC involves a thorough assessment of the presentation of the external auditors during the interaction and communication between the two parties. This illustrates the AC’s role as an effective monitoring mechanism when overseeing the audit quality. However, the conduct of the AC in overseeing four major areas (independence, appointment, remuneration and effectiveness of audit process) related to audit quality, as recommended by the UK Code of Corporate Governance, provides mixed results. The findings highlight the ceremonial role of the AC in those areas, which demonstrates the limited supporting role of the AC in enhancing audit quality. Furthermore, it is suggested that the effectiveness of the oversight role is influenced by the quality of the chairman of the AC and the quality of the relationship between the AC and the external auditors. Originality/value This study contributes to the existing literature by providing additional insights into the conduct of the AC in overseeing audit quality as well as additional evidence concerning the role and effect of the AC in relation to audit quality as prescribed by the UK Code of Corporate Governance.
Published: 14 August 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 318-335; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-04-2017-0140

Abstract:
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to synthesize insights from existing research on the disclosure of non-generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) earnings, from an international point of view, and to suggest several avenues for future research in this area. Design/methodology/approach: In conjunction with the analysis of existing research, the paper examines how different regulators and accounting standard setters have approached the topic of non-GAAP earnings disclosure. Findings: The paper shows how non-GAAP earnings have been found to be more informative than GAAP earnings in several scenarios (countries where non-GAAP disclosures are compulsory, countries where these disclosures are voluntary but regulated and countries where they are not regulated). However, in certain circumstances, these disclosures may also mislead investors. Corporate governance mechanisms can curb managers’ opportunistic use of these measures. Originality/value: The paper provides the growing number of academic researchers in this emerging area with a foundation and agenda upon which they can build their research.
Published: 14 August 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 336-350; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-04-2017-0137

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to review potential areas for interdisciplinary research in auditing. Approach The paper reflects on the relevance of the findings from auditing research, and discusses an example from medical research. The medical example highlights how unexpected results can lead to surprising research findings. The paper then examines the areas in which further auditing research should be most valuable. Findings Auditing research is generally based on practical problems. It can be qualitative, quantitative, use mixed methods or be interdisciplinary. There are examples of each of these, including interdisciplinary research that has contributed to the auditing literature. The paper describes areas in which future research in auditing is likely to be valuable. These include research in developing countries, smaller entities and other settings that have not been widely researched; research in the public sector, including the impact of armchair auditors; research about the place of auditing in corporate governance; and research about the function of auditing in confirming earlier unaudited announcements. Practical implications Standard setters are becoming more aware of research and more likely to make evidence-based decisions about auditing standards. Originality/value The paper evaluates existing research and provides suggestions for future research.
, Karin Barac, Herman De Jager
Published: 14 August 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 368-390; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-03-2017-0119

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to identify the determinants of internal audit workplace learning success for developing early career internal audit professionals in South Africa. Design/methodology/approach A qualitative research design was used to collect data through focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews from 65 internal audit stakeholders including internal audit employers’ early career; internal auditors’ workplace learning assessors; and presenters and members of the education and training committee of the professional body in South Africa on their experiences of the determinants of workplace learning success for internal auditors. Findings In line with workplace learning theories, it was found that there are five determinants of internal audit workplace success: the learning environment, management support, the early career internal auditors’ commitment (attitude and motivation to learn) and a relevant, structured and effective formal workplace learning programme. Practical implications Internal audit employers, early career internal auditors, workplace learning assessors and presenters as well as the Institute of Internal Auditors globally and in South Africa can use the results of this study as a benchmark for their internal audit workplace learning practices. Originality/value This paper provides insight into the determinants of workplace learning success for internal auditors and contributes to the limited body of knowledge in auditing on developing professional competence in the workplace.
Published: 10 August 2015
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 23, pp 158-174; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-12-2014-0062

Abstract:
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine issues at the frontiers of auditing research. After the global financial crisis and the earlier round of reforms, there are many opportunities for research, some driven by current proposals for reforms and some by fundamental research issues. Research can contribute to the development of policy in response to current issues. Research can also be valuable in exploring issues raised in past research. Design/methodology/approach – Issues that are currently of concern to regulators and for which research would be of value are reviewed, together with fundamental issues arising from previous research. Findings – The introduction of independent regulation, increasing levels of globalization and increased attention to research by regulatory bodies have drawn attention to some research issues, especially auditors providing non-audit services, rotation of audit firms, joint audits and ways to provide increased competition. In addition, there are a number of areas in which there seems to be an obvious need for auditing research, but surprisingly little research is being done. These topics include the impact of higher-quality auditing in developing economies, and assurance for other entities such as charities and small companies. As more attention is now being given to auditing research, there are opportunities in established areas of research as well. Originality/value – Research is starting to make a contribution in policy making with relation to auditing, but there is still a need for much more research. The paper provides guidance on areas where further research will be valuable.
Published: 5 June 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 291-316; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-10-2016-0083

Abstract:
Purpose The aims of this study are to review the literature examining the arguments for and against the telephonic qualitative research interviews, to develop criteria for assessing when the use of the telephone is suitable in qualitative research and if suitable to offer detailed strategies for the effective use of this data collection instrument. Design/methodology/approach The study is a thematic analysis of the literature, informed by the researchers’ experiences using the telephone, computer-based audio and face-to-face interviews for an accounting research project involving 50 semi-structured interviews with managers. Findings The study identifies five criteria to determine the suitability of using the telephone in qualitative research interviews. In addition, the study offers a set of detailed strategies on what to do before, during and after a telephonic qualitative research interview. Research limitations/implications The study can assist qualitative researchers in deciding when to use the telephone and how to use it effectively. Originality/value The study builds on the limited prior research and provides a more complete list of strategies on the effective use of the telephone in qualitative social sciences research. These strategies are a synthesis of existing studies and observations drawn from the author's study, which examines the work of organisational managers. In comparison, prior studies have been based on research projects that explored sensitive personal issues and emotive experiences not always related to managerial work.
Published: 5 June 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 216-240; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-11-2016-0092

Abstract:
Purpose The study aims to analyse the level and trend of corporate responsibility disclosures (CRD) in annual reports of listed firms on the Ghana Stock Exchange against the Global Reporting Index and to examine the influence of the institutional environment on such disclosures. Design/methodology/approach A content analysis of annual reports of 17 listed firms in Ghana over a 10-year period (2003-2012) of social and environmental disclosures using the Global reporting indicators as the standard was undertaken. A multiple regression analysis using the random effect estimator was used to test institutional factors influencing CRD. Findings The study finds that listed firms in Ghana disclose some responsibility information; and this has increased over the period, with a significant dip in the year 2010. The study also documents a significant amount of disclosures post International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) adoption. The increase in disclosure is particularly explained by IFRS adoption by Ghana and the number of women on boards. This study finds a positive but weak relationship between companies’ association with foreign firms, majority shareholders and CRD. A positive significant relationship is confirmed for firm size, while capital intensity shows a negative significant relationship with CRD in Ghana. Research limitations/implications The word search may not capture similar words not known to the author, and the words used may have different meanings. In addition, bias may arise from the limited sample size and the choice of companies. Regulators must enforce existing environmental guidelines and streamline reporting for social and environmental issues to help managers disclose more social and environmental information. Originality/value The study highlights CRD and its drivers from Ghana, an emerging African economy. To the author’s knowledge, this study is the first to undertake a longitudinal study on social and environmental disclosures of listed companies in Ghana against the Global Reporting Initiative and to determine the effect of IFRS adoption in Ghana on CRD.
Published: 5 June 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 241-267; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-09-2016-0080

Abstract:
Purpose Whistleblowing has been receiving increased attention and support in recent times as a means of detecting and correcting wrongdoing in organizations. This study aims to examine perceptions, attitudes and consequences (actions and reactions) of whistleblowing, as well as the predictors of internal and external whistleblowing intentions, by using Graham’s (1986) model of principled organizational dissent in a small emerging and collectivist culture like Barbados. Design/methodology/approach The study utilized a self-administered survey of 282 accounting employees working in organizations in Barbados. Findings Results reveal that there is little awareness of whistleblowing legislation. Most respondents perceive whistleblowing as ethical and favor internal over external whistleblowing. Findings show that personal responsibility and personal costs significantly influence internal whistleblowing intentions, while personal costs influence external whistleblowing. Using qualitative data, several themes emerged as influencing whistleblowing: perceived benefits of whistleblowing, actual whistleblowing experiences (handling of reports), personal costs (climate of fear and hostility), perceived lack of anonymity and cultural norms. Research limitations/implications Future research should control for social desirability bias and use more rigorous qualitative approaches such as face-to-face interviews and focus groups to gain in-depth opinions and feelings on the topic. Practical implications Whistleblowing can be achieved through such mechanisms as perceived organizational support, strong ethical codes of conduct, rewarding ethical behavior and promoting sound work ethics in organizations. Originality/value This paper explores whistleblowing in an emerging economy where there has been little research on the topic. Thus, this study supplements the existing research in emerging economies by examining the applicability of Graham’s (1986) model of principled organizational dissent.
Published: 5 June 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 186-215; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-02-2016-0020

Abstract:
Purpose Sustainability reporting serves as a means of communication between corporations and their stakeholders on sustainability issues. This study aims to identify and account for the contents of sustainability reporting communicated through the websites of the plants in five continents of the same multinational mining corporation. Design/methodology/approach This study uses data published by Newmont Mining Corporation. The corporation has regional headquarters in five continents: Africa, Asia, Australia and North America and South America. The data were drawn from the websites of the five plants adjacent to those regional headquarters. Economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainability as reported by each plant were identified; to do so, a disclosure analysis based on the elements of the Global Reporting Initiative and the United Nations Division for Sustainability Development was used. These aspects were then compared and contrasted to highlight if, and to what extent, institutional isomorphism influences variations in sustainability disclosures among plants compared with the parent company. Findings It was found that most of the reporting about sustainability matters comprises narratives; there were also a few physical measures but very little financial information. Notwithstanding that the websites of all five plants used similar headings, the contents of reports differed. The reports from the plants in Australia, South America and Africa were more comprehensive than those from the plants in Asia and North America. The authors attribute these differences to institutionalisation of location-specific characteristics, including management discretion, legislation and societal pressures influencing sustainability reporting. The authors argue that managers responsible for preparing sustainability reports and who work essentially as sustainability accountants should develop templates and measures to raise the standard and comprehensiveness of reports for improved communication, information and behaviour. Originality/value Extant studies on sustainability reporting have focused mainly on comparisons between sustainability reports published by different corporations or sustainability reports published in different years by the same corporation. The authors believe that this is one of the first studies to have examined differences in sustainability information published by different subsidiaries within the same large corporation and the first to show how concurrent disclosures can differ.
Published: 5 June 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 268-290; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-02-2017-0114

Abstract:
Purpose Independent monitoring and review bodies have become a defining feature of the professional accounting and auditing space. Exactly how these institutions function to improve the quality of the corporate reporting or audit function is, however, poorly understood. Consequently, the purpose of this study is to provide empirical evidence on how the activities of an independent review process functions on individual preparers, auditors and those charged with an organisation’s governance. Design/methodology/approach The study is an interpretive one. Data are collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed by the researchers. Findings The review function performed by an independent body results in companies being more aware of the need for compliance with the applicable financial reporting standards. Independent reviews also act as a process of examination which functions at the level of the individual accountant, auditor or director. These subjects of regulation report an added sense of accountability to their respective employer and profession and a heightened awareness of the need for high-quality corporate reporting. Research limitations/implications Independent monitoring and review bodies are not just symbolic displays which reassure uninformed users that the quality of financial statements are sound. Examination of financial statements and identification of non-compliance with the applicable financial reporting standards drive actual changes in reporting practices. Originality/value This study complements the predominantly positivist financial reporting research which does not deal with precisely how the work of regulatory bodies operates on the subjects of regulation. The research makes an important practical contribution by providing empirical evidence in support of laws and regulations which promote independent review of the accounting profession.
Published: 10 April 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 28-36; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-11-2016-0091

Abstract:
Purpose: This paper aims to explain the contextual basis for examining the accountant stereotype, describe the multiple influences on its development and propose directions for further research. Design/methodology/approach: This paper takes the form of a review. It discusses a research paper published in the current issue of Meditari Accountancy Research which undertakes a content analysis using the General Inquirer to identify the image of accountants as represented in novels. Findings: Several issues need to be considered when examining these results. The first of these is that the portrayal of accountants in the media has become more positive in recent times. Second, the media is just one influence on the development of stereotypes; third, the media may have limited influence on stereotype formation. Research limitations/implications: The findings have implications for further research on the development and maintenance of the accountant stereotype. Originality/value: This review contributes to the debate on possible interventions to create a more positive image of accountants.
Published: 10 April 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 95-113; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-10-2015-0070

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to provide an assessment of the decision-usefulness and quality of governmental financial reports in Greece under the recently adopted modified-cash basis. The evaluation is performed within the wider debate regarding the actual benefits of a transition toward an accounting paradigm that lies closer to accrual accounting as the Greek modified-cash basis borrows several accrual characteristics. Design/methodology/approach The transition to modified accruals is analyzed through the prism of the new institutional theory. The approach adopted builds on the characteristics of the accounting information pertaining to the conceptual frameworks of public and private sector accounting standard setting bodies. The assessment is conducted on the basis of the perceptions of public sector financial information users on a Web-based questionnaire. Findings The findings provide empirical evidence, albeit of moderate magnitude, in favor of the benefits associated with a move to full accruals. Originality/value The study moves the debate on the merits of accounting systems’ changes toward the worldwide witnessed trajectory a step forward by providing practical evidence on the matter.
Published: 10 April 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 37-64; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-09-2016-0076

Abstract:
Purpose A major impediment to the advancement of ethics research in the accounting domain is the availability of appropriate research participants. This study aims to investigate the validity of using student surrogates in accounting ethics research. Design/methodology/approach A survey instrument was administered to a sample of US accounting practitioners (Certified Public Accountants) and two student respondent groups: intermediate and advanced-level accounting students. Both personal values and ethical judgments were measured. Findings Significant differences were found in both the structure of personal values and ethical judgments between practitioners and accounting students. Life-stage effects play an important role in explaining these differences. Hedonistic values are seen to become less salient through the maturation process, whereas others, such as security, become increasingly important. Unexpectedly, values are found to have little direct impact on ethical judgments. Research limitations/implications The cross-sectional nature of the research design means the impacts of maturation and experience can only be inferred. Future corroborating longitudinal studies are encouraged. Practical implications Overall, the findings suggest caution in the use of student surrogates in this research context. In particular, adequate attention ought to be given to the close matching of ages, and to the extent possible, the education level between students and the target professional population. Insights provided by the study into factors underlying the ethical decision-making process of accountants provide a basis for evaluating the capabilities of employees and can be used in education and organizational training. Originality/value This study addresses a significant gap in the prior literature by concurrently considering the interrelationships between personal values, ethical judgment and subject type in studying the suitability of student surrogates in accounting ethics research.
Published: 10 April 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 114-135; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-08-2016-0072

Abstract:
Purpose This paper surveys corporate officers responsible for greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting and assurance to determine the attributes that influence their choice between an accounting and a non-accounting GHG assurance provider. Differences in the relative importance of these attributes between those selecting accounting and non-accounting assurers are also explored. Design/methodology/approach A survey questionnaire was completed by 25 corporate officers responsible for reporting and voluntarily assurance of GHG emissions in Australia. The questionnaire asked the respondents to indicate the relative importance of 41 company and assurer attributes in influencing their assurance provider choice. Findings Results indicate that attributes related to the assurance provider, such as team and team leader assurance knowledge, reputation, objectivity and independence, are more influential than attributes related to the nature of the company or the nature of the GHG emissions. Attributes such as geographical dispersion of operations were found to be differently important to this decision between companies purchasing assurance from accounting and non-accounting firms. Research limitations/implications The study’s main limitation is the small number of participants. Future research may extend this study by exploring the conditions under which companies voluntarily assure GHG emissions as well the motivations of responsible officers in their assurer choice. Practical implications This paper provides valuable insights to GHG assurers to assist their understanding of the attributes that are important to potential GHG assurance clients. Originality/value The study makes unique contributions to the assurer choice literature by not only addressing this issue in the context of the dichotomous GHG assurance market but also by addressing it from the perspective of the assurance purchaser.
Published: 10 April 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 136-157; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-08-2016-0070

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore stakeholder expectations of performance within public healthcare services from a less-developed economic context – Zambia in this case. The study emerges from extant literature indicating potential variations in stakeholder conceptions and expectations of performance within public services. Design/methodology/approach The paper draws on institutional and structuration theories to investigate cross-sectional stakeholder expectations of performance together with power relations embedded within public healthcare performance expectations. Empirical data are drawn from semi-structured interviews with 33 stakeholders including legislators, policymakers, regulators of health services, healthcare professionals and health facility managers. Findings The findings not only reiterate the constructed and multi-dimensional nature of performance but also highlight the hierarchical configuration of stakeholder expectations linking macro-level health outcomes with micro facility-level service delivery processes. Practical implications The study points towards the need of harmonising the national performance measurement (PM) framework to ensure that macro-level goals are suitably cascaded and translated into micro-level service delivery processes through bottom-up structuration linkages. Originality/value In addition to filling the gap of explicating public healthcare PM practices in a less-developed economic context, the paper integrates insights from institutional and structuration theories to depict stakeholder expectations of performance through a multi-level and hierarchical framework.
Published: 10 April 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 158-182; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-07-2016-0068

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to introduce and illustrate how discrete choice experiments (DCEs) can be used by accounting researchers and present an agenda of accounting-related research topics that might usefully benefit from the adoption of DCEs. Design/methodology/approach Each major phase involved in conducting a DCE is illustrated using a capital budgeting case study. The research agenda is based on a review of experimental research in financial accounting, management accounting and auditing. Findings DCEs can overcome some of the problems associated with asking decision-makers to rank or rate alternatives. Instead, they ask decision-makers to choose an alternative from a set. DCEs arguably better reflect the realities of real-world decision-making because decision-makers need to make trade-offs between all of the alternatives relevant to a decision. An important advantage that DCEs offer is their ability to calculate willingness-to-pay estimates, which can enable the valuation of non-market goods. Several streams of experimental accounting research would appear well-suited to investigation with DCEs. Research limitations/implications While every effort has been made to ensure that this illustration is as generic to as the many potential studies as possible, it may be that researchers seeking to utilise a DCE need to refer to additional literary sources. This study, however, should serve as a useful starting point. Practical implications Accounting researchers are expected to benefit from reading this article by being: made aware of the DCE method and its advantages; shown how to conduct a DCE; and provided with an agenda of accounting-related research topics that might usefully benefit from application of the DCE methodology. Originality/value It is the authors’ understanding that this is the first article directed to accounting academics regarding the conduct of DCEs for accounting research. It is hoped that this study can provide a useful platform for accounting academics to launch further research adopting DCEs.
Published: 10 April 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 65-81; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-02-2016-0030

Abstract:
Purpose: The purpose of this study is to understand the economic substance of Islamic banking transactions in South Africa and to analyse whether the economic substance is closely related to the legal form. Additionally, this study highlights the similarities and differences in the execution of Islamic banking transactions across different South African banks. The transactions analysed are deposit products of qard and Mudarabah and financing products of Murabaha, Ijarah and diminishing Musharaka. Design/methodology/approach: The study was conducted through interviews with representatives from each of the four South African banks that offers Islamic banking products. Interviews were semi-structured and allowed interviewees to voice their perspectives, increasing the validity of the interviews. Findings: The study found that specific Shariah requirements of Islamic banking transactions are considered and included in the legal structure of the contracts by all four banks offering Islamic banking products. However, the economic reality of these transactions was often significantly different from its legal form and was found to, economically, replicate conventional banking transactions. The study also found that all four banks offer Islamic banking products under the same Shariah principles, but in some instances (e.g. diminishing Musharaka), execute these transactions in different ways. This study is the first of its kind in South Africa. Research limitations/implications: While safeguards have been used to ensure the reliability and validity of the research, there remain a few inherent limitations which should be noted: interviewees, while chosen for their expertise and level of knowledge, may provide highly technical insight which may be difficult to interpret. Detailed technicalities were therefore excluded from this research. The regulatory environment of banks in South Africa, for example, regulation imposed by the Financial Service Board on all financial institutions in South Africa, has not been explored. However, the regulatory environment was brought to the readers’ attention to help illustrate certain themes. This research uses only Shariah requirements as detailed in Section 2.2 to analyse transactions. Fatwas (rulings) issued by the Shariah Boards of South African Islamic banks have not been included in this study and may be an area of future research. Originality/value: This study is the first of its kind in South Africa. The study adds to the Islamic banking literature by analysing the real execution of Islamic banking transactions rather than the theoretical compliance with Shariah law.
Published: 10 April 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 2-27; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-03-2015-0014

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to examine the accountants’ stereotype as it is developed within a sample of fiction novels. The descriptions of accountants in these novels are used to determine the attributes associated with the accountants’ image. Further, the purpose is to identify and compare the results of the present study with those images that have been identified in previous studies. Design/methodology/approach The descriptions in the novels are analyzed using context analysis and the corpus available through the General Inquirer (GI). A comparison is made between the results found in the present study using context analysis with previous studies using social-cultural methods to investigate stereotypes. The current paper attempts to avoid investigator bias based on social learning; lessens subjective interpretations; and rather than using a non-transferable rating scale unique to one article, it uses a widely accepted evaluation measure in the GI. Findings The image of accountants in the sample of novels was found to be positive rather than the negative image described in previous papers. The conclusion reached is that past studies of the accountants’ image have not eliminated social-cultural biases from their research results. The present study suggests that an image filled with negative characteristics may vary with the medium, and there may not be a universal image of the accountant. Research limitations/implications One weakness of content analysis is that positive words are used in phrases that may have negative connotations. For example, the word “cool” as related to a person may have the meaning that a person is really neat or that they are standoffish. Another limitation of context analysis is coding bias as a consequence of the subjectivity among the various individuals performing the coding. The corpus used in the GI attempts to overcome these issues. Practical implications Managers’ potential interactions with accountants are affected by their internal perceptions of the accounting profession. If accountants are associated with negative images as outlined in previous research, why is their decision-making input still widely used? An understanding of why a group of such professionals are considered to be important to decision-making needs to be analyzed. If managers truly believe accountants are weak, negative and short-sighted, as has been confirmed in previous research, accountants and their skill set would not be used by managers. Yet, their skills are sought out by managers. The dichotomy is investigated in the paper. Social implications Stereotypes affect members of the public in their support, approach and interactions with a profession. The job functions available to a profession are affected and restricted by its stereotype. Unfortunately, many people develop distortions and biases in their perceptions and react toward a group based on those internally held perceptions. It is worthwhile to understand how a group is viewed in society to be able to understand how they can deal with these stereotypes. Originality/value The approach in the paper is the first application of context analysis to the study of the accountant’s image. In this context, data identified in the structure of a text provide a basis to the underlying patterns in the text and by implication its attributes. Unlike the past studies, which rely on social learning to evaluate the accountants’ image, the current research combines content analysis with corpus linguistics to identify themes and the significance of relationships in the data set.
Published: 10 April 2017
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 25, pp 82-94; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-01-2016-0008

Abstract:
Purpose Tax risk-management (TRM) is relatively understudied in the area of corporate governance and integrated reporting. The purpose of this study is to identify whether South African organisations identify, rank and manage tax risks in terms of importance and relevance to their own corporation. The study also aims to identify the link, if any, between TRM practices being implemented and the discussion and disclosure of these practices in the integrated report. Design/methodology/approach Detailed interviews with some of South Africa’s leading tax and corporate governance experts are used to highlight the TRM practices currently in place, as well as the evolution of these practices. These interviews also identify the connection between the practices and the integrated reporting disclosures. Findings The experts interviewed have identified a sound understanding of TRM practices in place and certainly some evolution of these practices over the past five years. What has been identified though is the need for further enhancement and incorporation of TRM practices into the corporate governance control structures within organisations. Integrated reporting disclosure of TRM still appears to be an area where there is need for improvement, specifically a better understanding by companies of how to use their integrated reports as a strategic asset of the company as opposed to merely a compliance exercise. Research limitations/implications The research relies on a relatively small sample of subject experts and does not provide a complete account of TRM developments. Originality/value The study adds value by contributing to research conducted on TRM. Although there has been research on ERM from a corporate governance perspective, few studies have examined this from a tax perspective, and there is virtually no formal academic research on the relationship between TRM and corporate governance from a South African perspective.
, Beatrice Liezel Frick
Published: 8 August 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 438-457; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-06-2015-0033

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to investigate the production of accounting doctorates in South Africa during the period from 2008 to 2014. The investigation was prompted by calls to qualify more academics at the doctoral level, bearing in mind that postgraduate supervision forms part of an academic’s core teaching responsibilities. Design/methodology/approach This archival study uses data obtained from the institutional repositories of four research-intensive universities in South Africa to construct a profile of the accounting doctoral theses produced. Findings Overall, the findings indicate a move towards the international requirement for doctoral-qualified accounting academics, implying an increased research orientation in South African university accounting departments. Some of the detail findings follow: most doctorates were produced at the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria. The accounting fields of taxation and financial management produced the most doctorates. Almost 50 per cent of the doctorates went to members of staff. Further, 28 per cent of the doctorates went to students with the CA(SA) professional qualification. The use of the PhD by publication format is growing. The low quantity of PhDs produced can possibly be explained by the low numbers of PhD qualified professorial staff who can act as supervisors. Lastly, the accounting doctorates analysed in this paper were longer and supervised by more people than the typical commerce faculty doctorate. Research limitations/implications Not all South African universities were included in the study and therefore some accounting doctorates might have been excluded. In addition, accounting education doctorates, possibly supervised in faculties of education, would also be excluded in view of the approach followed in this paper, which was to identify accounting doctorates via departments and commerce faculties. Originality/value This article is the first of its kind to examine the accounting doctorates produced in South Africa since Van der Schyf’s (2008) call for the establishment of a research culture in the accounting departments of South African universities. As such, this paper makes an important contribution towards how such a research culture may be enhanced through cultivating doctoral education in this context.
Grant Samkin, Lesley Stainbank
Published: 8 August 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 294-317; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-05-2016-0062

Abstract:
Purpose Positioned within a framework of challenges facing universities, this paper aims to focus on challenges faced by teachers of accounting as a business discipline to ensure it remains relevant in a fast-moving and changing environment. Design/methodology/approach Drawing on a variety of sources, this paper explores a number of issues surrounding teaching and learning in the current university environment. The seven papers that make up the special issue are located within a framework which is used to illustrate how each one contributes to the field. This paper is primarily discursive in nature. Findings The theoretical, methodological and empirical approaches used in the papers that make up this special issue are described. In addition, the paper suggests that to remain relevant, teaching and learning will remain an important area for future research. Practical implications This paper on teaching and learning is of interest to accounting teachers and researchers, university managers and members of the accounting profession. Originality/value This special issue provides a range of examples of research relevant to teaching and learning and sets an agenda for future research.
Lesley Stainbank, Kerry-Lee Gurr
Published: 8 August 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 318-340; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-08-2015-0051

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this exploratory study is to describe the use of social media platforms in a first-year accounting course at a South African university and provide evidence on whether students found these social networking sites useful. Design/methodology/approach The study uses survey research to determine students’ usage of two social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) and their perceptions of these platforms’ usefulness in a first-year accounting course. Findings The study found that the time spent on the two social media platforms does not detract from the time spent on preparation for the first-year accounting course. Students’ perceptions on the usefulness of these platforms showed support by all students for using social media to provide career information, but not all students perceived the platforms to be useful for communication and teaching and learning. While no statistically significant differences were found in the students’ responses based on gender, a number of statistically significant differences were found when the results were analysed according to language. Students whose home language was not English found the two social media platforms more useful for some aspects of communication, teaching and learning and for career guidance than English-speaking students. Research limitations/implications The questionnaire was only administered to students on one campus who had actually accessed the social media platforms. Therefore, the results are not generalisable beyond this study. Practical implications The study shows that students whose home language is not English perceived the platforms more useful for communication, some teaching and learning aspects and for career guidance in a first-year accounting course. This may be helpful to other accounting teachers faced with student disruptions, large classes or high numbers of international students whose first language is not English, and who need to communicate with all their students. Originality/value The study adds to the discourse on the usefulness of social media platforms in a tertiary education setting, and more particularly, in a first-year accounting course in South Africa.
Herman Albertus Viviers, Jacobus Paulus Fouché, Gerda Marié Reitsma
Published: 8 August 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 368-389; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-07-2015-0045

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the usefulness of an educational game to develop soft skills (also known as pervasive skills), from the perspectives of three groups of role-players (student participants, student committee members and employer companies). The game was designed to provide students with the opportunity to develop soft skills and to determine whether students applied the pervasive skills required by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants. Design/methodology/approach Action research was conducted according to a parallel convergent mixed-method research design. Both qualitative and quantitative data were gathered using questionnaires and focus group interviews to determine the usefulness of the educational game. Findings All three groups perceived the educational game to be effective in requiring students to apply the full spectrum of soft/pervasive skills. Although all the pervasive skills were perceived to be present in the game, teamwork, communication (listening and verbal) and time management skills were perceived to be most prominent, while written communication, professionalism and ethical awareness were found to be less prominent. Overall, this game can be recommended as an effective and innovative teaching method that can positively contribute to the pervasive skills development of accounting students. Originality/value The need to deliver well-rounded accounting graduates demonstrating core technical and soft skills (or pervasive skills and competencies) calls for new and innovative teaching methods. Accounting educators and programmes are continuously challenged regarding which methods to apply to meet these outcomes and substantiate their usefulness.
Theresa Van Oordt, Ingrid Mulder
Published: 8 August 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 341-367; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-08-2015-0054

Abstract:
Purpose Educators in the accounting discipline are faced with the challenge of finding innovative ways to accommodate the flexible learning styles of Millennial students, using “in classroom/contact time” effectively and decreasing transactional distance between students and educators in large classes. In an attempt to address these challenges, this paper aims to describe the implementation of basic e-learning tools (podcasts, vodcasts and voice-over-PowerPoint) as supplementary and substitutional tools in an undergraduate taxation curriculum. The tools were implemented as part of a student-centred approach to the facilitation of learning, embedded in the Blended Learning Theory. The paper reports on students’ use and experience of various basic e-learning tools, as well as the impact of the use of these tools on student performance. Design/methodology/approach An action research methodology was followed, and data were collected by way of a voluntary, descriptive student survey and student class lists. A total of 387 students completed the survey. Findings Students appear to have access to devices and data to use e-learning tools. They perceive these tools as helpful study aids and prefer synchronous, substitutional tools. Use of the tools does not have a significant impact on performance; however, it does appear to have a positive impact on the learning environment and student engagement. Originality/value The results of the study may be of benefit to educators and curriculum designers who are responsible for reviewing and updating the content delivery methods of undergraduate taxation curricula in large classes with diverse student populations. These results add to the limited body of knowledge on the implementation of basic e-learning tools in a South African accounting education setting.
Satoshi Sugahara, Hisayo Sugao, , Takahiro Masaoka
Published: 8 August 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 414-437; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-02-2015-0006

Abstract:
Purpose This research applies a quasi-experimental research method to investigate the impact of an innovative resource titled “Accounting Exercise” (teaching intervention using physical movement and lyrics) on learning motivation and performance on a group of students enrolled in a first-year undergraduate accounting course in Japan. Design/methodology/approach Five classes were randomly assigned to either an experimental group (two classes) or a control group (three classes). In the experimental group, 90 students participated in a 15-min “Accounting Exercise” at the commencement of lectures over three consecutive weeks. The remaining 133 students assigned to the control group did not participate in the Accounting Exercise. Findings The findings indicate that the Accounting Exercise provided stimuli in maintaining students’ learning motivation. This finding is important for entry-level students where learning motivation has the potential to influence students’ future decisions on major areas of study and career choices. Originality/value This finding is important for entry-level students where future career options are decided. This effect is also believed to contribute to reducing the declining numbers of students in accounting majors.
Karin Barac, Marina Kirstein, ,
Published: 8 August 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 390-413; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-06-2013-0018

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to report on an investigation to understand factors influencing students learning approaches in the discipline of auditing. Design/methodology/approach By using the Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students research instrument the learning approaches of students in auditing at a South African residential university were measured on both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. This was followed by focus group discussions to obtain a deeper understanding of the factors that influenced the ways their audit studies were approached. Findings The results revealed a contrasting view with that presented in the literature, in that senior students were more inclined to adopt a surface approach. This could be attributed to learning environment dimensions such as the teaching and assessment practices as well as students’ perceptions of the workload. Further statistical analysis revealed that gender and race influenced students’ learning approaches at specific levels. Research limitations/implications The data are drawn from audit students at a residential university in South Africa; the findings of the study may thus not be generalisable beyond that context. Originality/value The study extends the existing student learning literature by adding perspectives from the discipline auditing. It could stimulate educators’ scholarly interest in pedagogic research which could contribute to curriculum and teaching method changes that equip audit educators to promote deep learning.
Published: 8 August 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 458-474; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-04-2015-0021

Abstract:
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the extent to which South African accounting academics use case studies in their teaching and to establish their views on whether this method can be used to transfer soft skills (also known as pervasive skills) to students. Design/methodology/approach An electronically administered questionnaire was sent to South African accounting academics. Findings Prior research provides evidence of the value of case studies in the transfer of soft/pervasive skills to students. The findings reveal that case studies are used less frequently by South African accounting academics than their international counterparts, because of a lack of awareness by South African accounting academics of the competencies that can be transferred using case studies, and the application of alternative teaching methods. Originality/value This paper provides insight into the use of case studies by academics in a developing country whose traditional strengths were in technical teaching, and the reluctance of the majority of South African accounting academics to embrace case studies into their academic programmes.
Published: 3 October 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 545-573; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-02-2016-0041

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to review the use of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions in accounting research over the period 1995-2015. Design/methodology/approach The author combines electronic and manual searches to identify relevant studies using key words like “national culture” or “Hofstede’s cultural dimensions” and “accounting” or “auditing” or “taxation”. The search yields a total number of 35 published studies. For each reviewed stream of research, the author presents its theoretical underpinning and summarises its main results. Findings The paper identifies four main accounting research topics being reporting policy, auditing, taxation and miscellaneous accounting. These studies use three main methodologies including empirical, experiment and meta-analysis. The review reveals that individualism is positively related to corporate reporting policy, while it is associated with low levels of tax evasion. High levels of masculinity are generally associated with low disclosure environments and aggressive accounting manipulations. Finally, long-term orientation has been examined with respect to social environmental disclosure, and findings are supportive of a positive association between both variables. Originality/value This literature review represents a historical record, an introduction and a guidance for researchers who aim to examine whether Hofstede’s cultural dimensions may be useful in explaining other accounting phenomena. It also presents the main criticisms addressed to Hofstede’s framework. Finally, it conducts a critical analysis for reviewed studies and highlights their reductionist approach in explaining accounting phenomena and methodological weaknesses.
, Helen Tregidga, Kate Kearins
Published: 3 October 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 478-504; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-09-2015-0063

Abstract:
Purpose In recognition of the potential for Buddhism to advance sustainability, this paper aims to investigate whether Buddhism appears to be informing the sustainability practices of corporations within a particular national context. Corporate sustainability reports are used as a site of analysis. Design/methodology/approach Sixteen corporate sustainability reports from a set of sustainability award-winning corporations in Sri Lanka, a country with a strong Buddhist presence, are analysed. Evidence of Buddhist principles and values related to sustainability is sought to ascertain the extent to which Buddhism is evident in disclosures within the reports. The influence of global institutions is also considered. Findings Analysis reveals surprisingly little evidence of Buddhist principles and values in the corporate sustainability reports of these award-winning corporations. Sustainability reporting practices are revealed to be highly institutionalised by global influences, with the majority of the reports examined explicitly embracing global standardisation. The standardisation of corporate sustainability reporting through the pursuit of globally accepted reporting frameworks is argued to have caused a disconnect between Buddhism as a prevalent institutional force in the local culture and context and the corporate representations evident in such reporting. Potential consequences of this disconnect in relation to the ability for Buddhism to inform sustainability practices at the organisational level are considered. Originality/value The paper contributes to the literature on corporate sustainability reporting through considering whether local cultural context is represented within such reports and possible reasons and consequences.
Tesfatsion Sahlu Desta
Published: 3 October 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 588-610; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-02-2016-0016

Abstract:
Purpose This paper aims to examine whether the African commercial banks selected as the best African banks by Global Finance Magazine really are the best. Design/methodology/approach Panel data envelopment analysis (DEA) was used, as well as the Malmquist total factor productivity index, to distinguish productive banks from unproductive banks. Nineteen commercial banks were selected from the 30 best African banks as identified by the Global Finance Magazine. Findings Of the 19 banks, five were found to be unproductive. Bank productivity was attributed mainly to technological change, and different methods marked different results, for example, the regional winner bank (Standard Bank of South Africa) selected by Global Finance Magazine ranked ninth in this study, whereas the Bank Windhoek Limited, Namibia, ranked first. Practical implications The study confirms the applicability of DEA for the banking industry. The model shows variability among the banks’ efficiency and productivity and provides different results to the Global Finance Magazine’s best bank selection. For example, the Standard Bank of South Africa, which is selected as the regional winner, is now ranked ninth under the DEA Malmquist’s total factor productivity. Originality/value The study shows that the DEA model can be applied not only for analysing the firm’s efficiency but also for objective rating, ranking and selecting best banks.
Marina Kirstein,
Published: 3 October 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 527-544; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-02-2014-0029

Abstract:
Purpose Individual students have different learning styles, and lecturers can no longer afford to ignore this. Lecturers have a responsibility to accommodate students’ different learning styles by including learning style flexibility in the offered learning opportunities. The purpose of this study is to map a teaching case study against the Herrmann Whole Brain® model to determine whether learning style flexibility has been incorporated in the teaching case study. Design/methodology/approach A teaching case study was developed and delivered as part of an undergraduate level course at a South African residential university. The case study’s primary intention was to illustrate the practical evaluation of general controls in an information technology environment. The teaching case study was analysed in terms of the Herrmann Whole Brain® model to determine whether learning style flexibility had been accommodated in the learning opportunity. Findings Based on an analysis of the teaching case study against the Herrmann Whole Brain® model, it is evident that the teaching case study incorporated activities that addressed all four quadrants of the Whole Brain® model. It can therefore be concluded that the learning opportunity incorporated learning style flexibility. Originality/value This paper contributes to the literature in accounting education by focusing on learning style flexibility specifically using the Herrmann Whole Brain® model, as it appears that limited examples of the use of this model in accounting education have yet been published. Although this paper discusses the use of an auditing case study, the results may be of interest to lecturers in other subject areas across the academic spectrum.
Paul Rouse, David Tripe
Published: 3 October 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 574-587; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-02-2016-0035

Abstract:
Purpose Paying too much for funding or failing to obtain adequate returns for lending and interest-bearing assets because of inappropriate mix is just as much a source of inefficiency in banking as overutilisation of input resources. The purpose of this research is to examine bank performance in terms of both technical and allocative efficiency. Design/methodology/approach This paper uses an extensive quarterly data set from New Zealand (NZ), which allows a decomposition of interest costs and revenues into quantity and price effects to explore the factors, including both technical and allocative efficiency, that impact changes in banks’ costs and revenues. Findings The research finds that focusing solely on technical efficiency can give a misleading impression of banking performance in our NZ sample. The inclusion of allocative efficiency measurement shows greater variability of performance, as well as highlighting changes in the mix of inputs and outputs needed for banks to improve performance. Originality/value A focus on prices and allocative efficiency has received little attention in the academic literature on banking. This paper shows how banking data can be decomposed into the respective price and quantity components.
Fadi Alkaraan
Published: 3 October 2016
Meditari Accountancy Research, Volume 24, pp 505-526; https://doi.org/10.1108/medar-01-2016-0007

Abstract:
Purpose This study brings together cognitive and organizational aspects of the strategic investment decision-making process. It focuses on the early stages of strategic investment decision-making. This paper aims to augment the limitations of previous survey-based research through an archival case study that describes pre-decision screening in detail. Design/methodology/approach This paper draws on archival data covering an investment decision undertaken by a large brewing company. The data cover a period of about six years, focusing on the decision to invest in West Africa. A rational/intuitive orientation model of the process is used as a framework to help analyze the archival evidence. Findings Strategic investment decisions are non-programmed, complex and uncertain. For some companies (e.g. those with a strategic focus on new expansions), certain non-programmed decisions may become semi-programmed in the course of time by applying knowledge learned from having successfully handled non-programmed decision situations in the past. However, other companies without such a focus may not be able to programme part of their strategic decisions. Pre-decision control mechanisms constitute a form of strategic control by detecting potential problem areas in the investment option before formal approval. Research limitations/implications Given the narrow scope of this paper – a single case study – the findings are used for theorization rather than offering generalizable results. There is a need for unified models to enrich our understanding of the influence that contextual factors have on strategic investment decision-making. Effective strategic pre-decision control mechanisms that maintain a good balance between rational and intuitive approaches are matters that remain open for debate in future research. Practical implications Research on organizational and cognitive aspects of the strategic investment decision-making process is inherently practical. To achieve successful strategic investment decisions, it is essential to devote more attention to the choice and design of strategic control mechanisms. Originality/value The framework of this study can help practitioners to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of their decision-making practices. It focuses on three aspects that are relatively absent in the literature: the strategic problem, the strategic choice and the chronological relations between the five stages of the strategic investment decision-making process. The use of historical data is suited to providing illustrations of intuitive/heuristic-based practices that would otherwise be hard to capture.
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