Re-theorizing the configuration of organizational fields:the IIRC and the pursuit of ‘Enlightened’ corporate reporting

Humphrey, Christopher and O’Dwyer, Brendan and Unerman, J. (2017) Re-theorizing the configuration of organizational fields:the IIRC and the pursuit of ‘Enlightened’ corporate reporting. Accounting and Business Research, 47 (1). pp. 30-63. ISSN 0001-4788

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This paper studies the emergence of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and its attempts to institutionalize integrated reporting as a practice that is critical to the relevance and value of corporate reporting. Informed by Suddaby and Viale’s [(2011). Professionals and field-level change: institutional work and the professional project. Current Sociology, 59, 423–442] theorization of how professionals reconfigure organizational fields, the paper delineates the strategies and mechanisms through which the IIRC has sought to enroll the support of a wide range of stakeholder groups for the idea of integrated reporting in order to deliver a fundamental reconfiguration of the corporate reporting field. The paper’s analysis reinforces the significance to any such field reconfiguration of the reciprocal and mutual arrangements between influential professionals and other powerful actors but does so in a way that (a) refines Suddaby and Viale’s theorization of processes of field-level change and (b) pinpoints the fundamental policy challenges facing the IIRC. Gieryn’s [(1983). Boundary work and the demarcation of science from non-science: strains and interests in professional ideologies of scientists. American Sociological Review, 48 (6), 781–795] notion of boundary work is operationalized to capture some of the complexity and dynamism of the change process that is not sufficiently represented by Suddaby and Viale’s more sequentialist theorization. From a policy perspective, the paper demonstrates just how much the IIRC’s prospects for success in reconfiguring the corporate reporting field depend on its ability to reconfigure the mainstream investment field. Ultimately, this serves to question whether the IIRC’s conceptualization of ‘enlightened’ corporate reporting is sufficiently powerful and persuasive to stimulate ‘enlightened’ investment behavior focused on the medium and long term–and, more generally stresses the theoretical significance of considering connections across related organizational fields in institutional analyses of field reconfiguration efforts. © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

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Journal Article
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Accounting and Business Research
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Accounting and Business Research on 14/07/2016, available online:
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28 Aug 2018 10:26
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19 Sep 2023 01:58