Thinking through the integration of corporate reporting: exploring the interplay between integrative and integrated thinking

Nicholas McGuigan, Ellen Haustein, Thomas Kern, Peter Lorson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to introduce an analytical focus on an individual’s integrative thinking capacity to further understand integrated thinking within the organisation. Integrated thinking is an elusive concept, gaining in prominence through its use by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC), without specific guidance or a commonly understood framework. To date, the academic debate on integrated thinking addresses the organisational level only. However, thinking is a process occurring within the mind of an individual and therefore the prerequisites for integrated thinking at the individual level needs to be considered. Critical reflection is, therefore, provided on the interplay between integrative and integrated thinking. Design/methodology/approach: This paper draws on conceptual systems theory and case site analysis to reflect how integrative thinking can be encouraged and supported within the individual and how integrated thinking can hence be fostered within organisations. Findings: The paper analyses and discusses four sites of integrative thinking: the Athenian democracy; the Minangkabau community; the Quakers and consensus decision-making; and the Apis Mellifera and the hive mind. The findings from these different sites illustrate that integrative thinking can be supported by specific structural, organisational and individual contexts and stimuli. Originality/value: Extending the context of integrated thinking analysis outside of the organisation and analysing these sites through components of integrative thought, this article provides further insights into how integrated thinking can be fostered within different organisations. The implications of these findings for accounting and professional institutions, organisations and the ongoing professional development of accountants are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)775-804
Number of pages30
JournalMeditari Accountancy Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Accountants
  • Conceptual Systems Theory
  • Integrated reporting
  • Integrated thinking
  • Integrative thinking
  • Professionalism
  • Systems design

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