Uniwersytet Ekonomiczny w Kr akowie
Zesz. Nauk. UEK, 2017; 9 (969): 17–32
The Types of Business Risk
Identified in Integrated Reporting
The paper presents the possibilities of identifying business risk on the basis of data
disclosed in integrated reporting. The research method used relies on a review of Polish
and foreign literatures and an empirical analysis of integrated reports disclosed in 2016.
The structure of the reports, which complies with the most recent trends and inter-
national recommendations with regard to integrated reporting, confirms the hypothesis
put forward in the paper. The concluding remarks aim to arouse interest in research on the
possibilities of verifying and assessing disclosures related to the identification of risk in
Keywords: integrated reporting, business risk, business risk identification, integrated
JEL Classification: G32.
The obligation to present information on business risk in financial reporting
is set forth in the legal systems of a number of European countries as well as EU
regulations (Directive 2014/95/EU). The above standards require entities, among
others, to identify risk management factors and methods. The proposed structure
of integrated reporting, reflecting the efforts aimed at unifying and, to some
Katarzy na Chłapek, Cracow University of Economics, Faculty of Finance and Law, Department
of Financial Accounting, Rakowicka 27, 31-510 Kraków, e-mail: chlapek email@example.com
degree, aggregating reported information, also points to the necessity of carrying
out analyses in the area of identifying business risk.
This study aims to identify business risks companies present in their integrated
reporting (IR), which are available on the websites of the International Integrated
Reporting Council (IIRC), which provide guidelines for companies which take up
the challenge of generating reports in the subsequent periods of their operations,
encouraging them to continue research on the quality and effective verification of
The main hypothesis is that integrated reporting can be a source of information
on identifying business risk, hence the research objective of the work is to analyse
data presented in integrated reports.
The basic research method relies on a long-lasting and in-depth analysis of
the evolution of financial reporting and the verification of trends observed in
business practice. The study includes a review of Polish and foreign literature
in the field of integrated reporting and business risk. It refers to the results of
studies the author has done on identifying and measuring business risk, including
those based on integrated reporting in Polish listed companies (Chłapek 2016,
pp. 76–93). In the further part of the study, an empirical analysis of integrated
reports generated by entities in 2011–2016 is presented, with special attention
given to the identification of business risk in 2016. The study is based on an
analysis of a sample of integrated reports from IIRC websites.
The work aims to arouse interest in disclosures concerning business risk
presented in integrated reporting.
2. Integrated Reporting in the Practice of Economic Entities
In the era of globalisation, and in the context of problems related to business
risk, accounting systems and, consequently, financial reporting are subject to
continuous changes. The data which are presented on an entity’s achievements
have, over the course of years, undergone various modifications, shifting from
strictly financial, quantitative and verifiable data towards comprehensive non-
-financial disclosures presented in a narrative form. This process reflects the trend
to adjust the development of accounting to the needs of a wide range of recipients
(Andrzejewski 2016, p. 20), necessitating an entry into newly identified fields – the
subsequent stages of the development of financial accounting, characterised by
increasingly sophisticated areas of knowledge and technology. The current condi-
tions of integration and the requirements related to advanced forms and tools, as
well as the development of automation, computerisation and electronisation imply
the need for continuous progress. This indicates that even a highly aggregated
The Types of Business Risk…19
report – an integrated report – is certainly not the last stage of developing financial
reporting, constituting a challenge for research in the field of economic entities’
Integrated reporting is the most current response to the needs of the recipients
of accounting information as well as to the analyses of entities’ reports and the
diversified character reflected in their form and scope (financial statements, reports
on management activities, annual report, environmental report, social report,
sustainable development report, etc.). The combination of financial information,
presented separately in a financial statement as a report of management board
activities and as other non-financial information, included in various types of
thematic reports, makes it possible to provide a large number of recipients with
a comprehensive, reliable, transparent and comparable view of an entity’s overall
activities. Consequently, stakeholders’ expectations are met with regard to an
entity’s responsibility for its activities and its impact on the environment, presented
through the reliable reporting of information on the effectiveness of business
activities and the possible measures aimed to counteract business risk and mitigate
its effects (Eljasiak 2011, p. 100).
Integrated statements are intended to present a more transparent picture
of information on an entity’s activities and achievements, representing a new
approach to corporate reporting – an issue which is widely discussed in Polish
and foreign literatures (Krasodomska 2015). The integrated reporting framework
is also a leading topic of numerous scientific conferences, including Polish annual
congresses of university accounting departments, and a meeting organised by
IIRC, entitled “The Official Integrated Reporting Convention”. Such events aim to
exchange experience and identify prospects for integrated thinking – a foundation
of IR. Dialogue for longer-term value creation, and IIRC along with the Interna-
tional Corporate Governance Network (ICGN) are scheduled to cover other conti-
nents. For example, a conference is to be held in Tokyo in 2018 under the same title
(http://integratedreporting.org/, accessed: 15.08.2017). Currently, IIRC is a leading
organisation promoting IR implementation. However, the concept itself originates
from South Africa, where guidelines for integrated reporting were set forth prior
to the establishment of IIRC (de Villiers, Rinaldi & Unerman 2014, p. 2). Inte-
grated reporting is currently viewed as a call for integrated thinking, planning and
reporting of entities’ performance which aims to increase their financial results
and, consequently, their value. In a number of countries, proposals have been
set forth to transform integrated reporting into integrated information manage-
ment, which represents a continued evolution of reporting and constitutes another
challenge for accounting systems (Kraten 2017, pp. 6–9).
In accordance with the fundamental concepts described in The International
IR Framework (2013), an integrated report aims to present and explain an entity’s
overall activities in the context of creating value for its owners. An appropriated
presentation of data is guided by the following fundamental guidelines:
1) strategic focus and future orientation – a report should provide insight into
an entity’s strategy (in this context, an entity’s ability to create value should be
presented over short-, mid- and long-term horizons);
2) connectivity of information – it is required to present an overall view of
mutual relations and contingencies among the factors affecting an entity’s ability
to create value over time;
3) stakeholder relationships – IR should provide insights into the nature and
quality of an entity’s relationships with its key stakeholders, including the manner
in which an entity understands, considers and responds to stakeholders’ justified
needs and interests;
4) materiality – it is obligatory to disclose information on the issues which
have a material impact on an entity’s ability to create value;
5) conciseness – an effort is made to present information concisely;
6) reliability and completeness – all significant factors, both positive and
negative, should be presented in a balanced manner and without significant errors;
7) consistency and comparability – information should be presented
consistently over time, ensuring its comparability with that of other entities.
According to IIRC proposals, the general structure of an integrated report should
be composed of 8 elements, which are correlated and not mutually exclusive (Fig. 1).
The benefits resulting from the structure presented by the IIRC include: strong
transparency, the possibility of disclosing how all types of capital are managed,
an integrated approach to business, a reader’s focus on past events and referred
to the future, and the conciseness and materiality of information disclosed in
an integrated report (Bek-Gaik 2015 p. 486). In analysing the content of IR, the
literature points to well-structured and consistent information, transforming the
most significant financial and non-financial data into a coherent whole (Bek-Gaik
& Rymkiewicz 2015, p. 65). Another visible benefit is the increased compara-
bility and reliability of disclosures, which may ultimately lead to the obligation
to adopt integrated reporting at the EU level (Lambooy, Hordijk & Bijveld 2014,
pp. 217–2 24).
IR has also come in for a good deal of criticism. J. Brown and J. Dillard (2014,
pp. 1122–1156) state that IIRC guidelines with regard to the assessment of and
reporting on sustainable development are one-sided and limited. Significant
controversy is also caused by the presentation of financial data, indicating the
need for further research to identify major shortcomings (Kwiecień 2016; Kędzior
2016). B. Micherda has observed: “Whatever stores you issue, do it by number
and weight, spendings and takings, put everything in writing” (Mądrość… 1991,
p. 83; Podstawy… 2005, p. 11). A response to this criticism is that the recipients
The Types of Business Risk…21
of reports should encourage entities to identify in their reporting correlations
between financial and non-financial information (Zicari 2014, pp. 201–220).
A number of authors have attempted to analyse data disclosed in integrated or
other reports based on their structure, pointing both to benefits and threats related
to IR. Analysis of the literature leads to the conclusion that integrated reporting
poses a great challenge for accounting systems in a number of areas. Moreover, the
above analysis points to the need for further analysis of risk within the framework
of issues discussed in this work.
3. The Place of Business Risk in Integrated Reporting
The literature defines business risk in a number of ways. The widely accepted
– risk is a condition resulting from the existence of uncertainty (Black 2008,
– risk is the possibility of an unexpected effect occurring (Jajuga & Jajuga
1996, p. 99),
– risk indicates that future events will result in cash flows with a known prob-
ability distribution (Szychta 2010, p. 742).
overview and external
Strategy and resource
Fig. 1. Content Elements of Integrated Report
Source: the author, based on (The International IR Framework 2013).
While the terms risk and uncertainty are commonly regarded as synonymous,
they can be differentiated. In 1901, A. H. Willett (Urbanowska-Sojkin 2013, p. 19)
analysed and identified uncertainty and risk on a scientific basis, defining uncer-
tainty as a subjective reception of the state of the environment, resulting from
human deficiencies and the imperfection of the knowledge of the laws that govern
reality. He viewed risk as an objective state of the external world, correlated with
subjective uncertainty. According to F. H. Knight, risk can be differentiated from
uncertainty on the basis of differences between a measurable and non-measurable
uncertainty (Karmańska 2008, p. 29–30). According to the above assumptions,
uncertainty is defined as a non-measurable uncertainty, while risk represents
a quantifiable form of uncertainty. In this context, special attention should be given
to P. Bromiley’s, K. D. Miller’s and D. Rau’s interpretations, which bring the defi-
nition of uncertainty and risk directly into a business context, defining uncertainty
as the unpredictability of events inside and outside an entity. Risk, in turn, in the
context of strategic management, is the unpredictability of the results of specific
undertakings related to revenue, costs, profit and market share (Bromiley, Miller
& Rau 2001). In light of the above considerations, two concepts of risk can be
defined: exclusively threats, in accordance with the negative concept of risk, and
opportunities and threats, in light of the neutral concept of risk (Zarządzanie…
2008, p. 13).
The interest that exists in the international arena in management risk tools and
methods, reflected in the development of risk management standards including
FERMA, COSO II, AS/NZS, attests to the significant role which business risk
plays. Those standards define business risk on the basis of neutral risk, which
considers both threats and opportunities resulting from risk. Because of the
ubiquitous character of risk in business activities and the dynamic occurrence
of new risk areas, it is necessary to assess both current and future threats (Lai,
Azizan & Samad 2009, p. 44). With regard to management, an emphasis is
laid on the role of threats related to risk and the need to transform them into
opportunities both in development projects and an entity’s current operations
(Merchant 2012, p. 32).
Any economic event requires an accurate identification of its potential deter-
minants. A proper identification of risk should be a continuous process comprising
various aspects and areas related to an entity’s overall activities. An appropriate
identification results in developing a comprehensive list of potential types of risk
which are significant from the perspective of an entity’s unique character and
its functioning (Rogowski & Michalczewski 2005, p. 19; Khattab 2011, p. 275).
Various types of risk faced by economic entities have been defined (Chłapek
2015, pp. 19–25). However, special attention should be given to the classification
proposed by K. Jajuga (Zarządzanie… 2008, pp. 18–25), which defines types of
The Types of Business Risk…23
financial risk – the factors which have a financial impact on a business entity.
They include the following:
1) market risk – results from price changes in financial markets and related
markets, for example the commodity market. Types of market risk include:
– exchange rate risk,
– interest rate risk,
– stock price risk,
– commodity price risk,
– real estate price risk
– property price risk;
2) credit risk is identified on the basis of the following criteria:
a) credit risk understood in a broad sense:
– default risk,
– creditworthiness risk,
b) types of credit risk:
– borrower risk or issuer risk,
– counterparty risk;
3) operational risk: internal and external fraud, work safety and relationships
with employees, customers, products and business relationships, damage to physi-
cal assets, system deficiencies, and business process management;
4) liquidity risk: the possibility of converting assets to cash over short periods
of time and at a fixed price, solvency risk and liquidity risk related to financial
5) legal risk;
6) business risk;
7) event risk;
8) model risk.
The above classification of types of risk meets all the requirements of an
analysis of an entity’s business risk.
The issue of reporting information on risk in financial statements is widely
discussed by analysts, who point to the lack of legal regulations which would
require business entities to disclose relevant data (Sikacz 2014, pp. 719–729).
The results of such analyses are confirmed by those who depend on financial
reporting who frequently complain about the lack of sufficient information on
business risk in entities’ financial reporting.
Integrated reporting puts a strong emphasis on the problem of business risk.
An element of the content of IR is “risks and opportunities”, which, according
to the IIRC guidelines, should identify specific risks and opportunities affecting
an entity’s ability to create value over a short-, mid- and long-term horizon. IIRC
recommendations also call for the “outlook” section to present data that will help
to identify business risk. This section includes information on challenges and
uncertainties an entity can face in the course of implementing its strategic plans.
4. An Analysis of the Scope of Business Risk Identification
in Integrated Reporting
I carried out a preliminary analysis of all integrated reports disclosed on
IIRC’s website as of 20 August 2017 (http://examples.integratedreporting.org/
20.08.2017). All the selected reports meet IR requirements, regardless of their
specific names. The reports present the data of companies listed on world stock
exchanges, representing various business activities, and divided into 13 sectors.
The analysed time framework is affected by limitations resulting from a relatively
short period of IR adoption, covering the years 2011–2016. Fig. 2 presents the
number of reports per year.
Numbers of repor ts
2011 2 012 2013 2014 2 015 2016
Fig. 2. The Number of Integrated Reports Disclosed on IIRC’s Website, 2011–2016
Source: the author’s research.
Analysis of the data shows an increasing interest in putting out reports
complying with IIRC guidelines. However, despite an initial increase in the
number of reports complying with the requirements (up to 86 reports in 2014),
the number fell to 66 a year later, then all the way to 37 in 2016. The drop was
The Types of Business Risk…25
mainly attributable to the fact that reporting according to IIRC guidelines is not
mandatory. Such reporting is also a time-consuming process entailing numerous
dilemmas, while people responsible for the synthetic presentation of financial
and non-financial information are not always fully competent. The formula of an
integrated report poses a number of challenges, requiring its authors to adopt an
interdisciplinary approach and demonstrate professional skills. Table 1 presents
a matrix of randomly selected companies which decided to prepare IRs and
disclose them on the IIRC’s website. The table presents a zero-one matrix which
reflects IR(1) or its absence IR (0) on IIRC’s website in 2011–2016.
Table 1. Companies Disclosing IR in 2011–2016
Name of Entity 2011 2012 2 013 2014 2015 2 016
ACCA 0 1 0 1 0 1
BP 0 0 0 1 0 0
CIMA 0 1 1 1 0 0
DIAGEO 1 0 0 0 0 1
EXXARO 1 1 1 0 0 0
FIBRIA 1 0 0 0 1 0
GOLD FIELDS 1 1 1 1 1 0
G4S 0 0 0 1 0 0
IBEDROLA 0 0 0 1 0 1
JSC TVEL 0 0 0 1 0 0
LAWS ON 0 0 1 0 0 0
MONDI 0 0 0 0 0 1
NORDGOLD 0 0 0 0 1 0
NATURA 1 0 0 1 0 0
PHILIPS 0 0 0 0 1 0
SAP 0 0 0 0 1 0
TI TAN 0 0 0 1 0 0
UNILEVER 1 1 1 1 0 0
VODACOM 1 1 1 0 1 1
XST RATA 1 0 0 0 0 0
Source: the author’s research.
The information presented indicates that none of the entities prepared an IR
for each fiscal year (Vodacom – the absence of IR in 2014, and Gold Fields – the
absence of IR in 2016). Due to the lack of the obligatory character of disclosures
and time requirements, entities prepare IRs to suit their individual strategies.
The next stage of the analysis considers the presence of risk issues (risks and
opportunities) in IRs. Trends in this area are described on the basis of the share
(%) of integrated reports containing this element in the total number of IR disclo-
sures in a given year (Fig. 3).
2011 2 012 2013 2014 2 015 2016
11,6 3 12,12
Number of IRs
Fig. 3. The Number of IRs Including the Content Element “Risks and Opportunities”
in 2011–2 016 (%)
Source: the author’s research.
Fig. 3 indicates that, apart from an increasing interest in presenting reports
according to IIRC guidelines, only a few of the statements included the recom-
mended element “risks and opportunities”. An analysis of the current trends
indicates that reports in 2011 met IIRC requirements to a greater extent (24% of
published IRs), while the respective figure for 2014 was below 12%. IRs in 2016
paid more attention to identifying business risk with regard to the previous two
years – nearly 19% of them include this element. In the context of explaining the
above correlations, the existing trends may seem surprising, especially because
of the increasing significance of risk identification on a global scale in both the
micro- and macroeconomic dimensions. This is undoubtedly because the disclo-
sures are not required by law and a reluctance to maintain risky policies (unlike in
the several years that followed the global crisis). Moreover, not all entities describe
the content of their reports appropriately, so though they do identify risks, such
reports cannot be disclosed in accordance with IIRC requirements. A detailed
analysis of the remaining content elements in IR is presented in Deloitte’s
December 2016 report, Integrated Reporting Moving towards Maturity. Are We
Truly Maximizing the Benefits of Integrated Reporting? (2016 ).
Further analysis here is based on all IRs disclosed in 2016, which include the
content element “risks and opportunities”, as part of a review of disclosures related
The Types of Business Risk…27
to business risk. The following entities included risk-related information in their
2016 reports prepared in accordance with IIRC guidelines: AXA, Coca-Cola
Hellenic Bottling Company, Diageo, ING, Ibedrola, Novo Nordisk, and Tata Steel.
Table 2 presents the basic IR-related information about these companies and
detailed data on IT disclosures from IIRC’s website in 2011–2015 (in 2016, all
the entities in Table 2 disclosed IRs). The information presented is based on the
zero-one system – the presence of disclosure IR (1), or its absence IR (0).
Table 2. Basic Information about Companies which Disclose “Risks and Opportunities”
in Their IRs in 2016
Name of Entity Region Sector
Disclosed IRs (year) IR in
2011 2012 2 013 2014 2015
AXA Europe financial
COLA-COLA HBC Europe consumer
DIAGEO Europe consumer
ING Europe financial
IBEDROLA Europe utilities 00010459
NOVO NORDISK Europe healthcare 11101121
TATA ST EE L Asia industrials 00000300
Source: the author’s research.
The data presented in Table 2 indicate that, with the exception of Tata Steel
(IR first disclosure in 2016, covering the period 2015–2016), all the entities have
experience preparing reports in compliance with IIRC recommendations. Novo
Nordisk has met its IR requirements five times despite naming its statement
Annual Report (AR). Similarly, ING does not apply IR terminology in its ARs with
the required elements. AXA and Diageo, though their 2016 statements complied
with IR requirements, used IR terminology for the first time. All reports disclosed
on IIRC’s website by Coca-Cola Hallenic Bottling Company and Ibedrola are
integrated reports which use the relevant terminology. The entities which present
their IRs on IIRC’s website and disclose the element “risks and opportunities”
are European entities (except Tata Steel, based in Asia), representing five various
sectors: consumer goods (Coca-Cola Hallenic Bottling Company, Diageo),
financial services (AXA, ING), healthcare (Novo Nordisk), industrials (Tata
Steel) and utilities (Ibedrola). Report length varied significantly, which can be
attributed to company size and the scope of its activities. At 96 pages, Ibedrola’s
report was the shortest, while ING’s was, at 459 pages, the most extensive. Even
the most patient and knowledgeable of readers find it difficult to grasp the entire
content of IR information, which is an issue raised by IR practitioners (Integrated
Reporting… 2017, p. 34–37).
The next stage of the analysis focuses on an in-depth verification of information
contained in “risks and opportunities”. An assessment of risk-related disclosures
complying with IIRC requirements indicates that the relevant data meets the
requirement in all of the cases analysed. The companies carry out a detailed analysis
of the specific risks and opportunities which can impact their ability to create value
in short-, mid- and long-term periods, incorporating them into their strategic plans,
as well as activities related to the classified types of risk they identified.
To achieve the aims of this study, I carried out an in-depth analysis of business
risk disclosures and identified risk types. The analysis focuses on the comprehen-
sive versions of 2016 integrated reports, prepared and disclosed on IIRC’s website
by the entities presented in Table 3. The data provided by the entities is systema-
tised, which made it possible to identify the ten most frequently occurring types
(sources) of risk the companies under analysis faced (Table 3).
Table 3. Types (Sources) of Risk Identified in IRs in 2016
Type of Risk Number of Entities
Identifying a Specific Risk
Sh ar e (%)
in the Total Number of IRs
Disclosing Content Element
“Risk and Opportunities”
Exchange rate risks 7100
Interest rate risks 6 85,71
Regulatory change risks 685,71
Climate change risks 685,71
Technology and cyber risks 685,71
Tax r isks 571,43
Demographic change risks 571,43
Social and political unrest 457, 14
Health risks 457, 14
Customer innovation risks 342,86
Source: the author’s research.
All of the entities identified exchange rate risks, which result from their inter-
national business operations. The entities were also concerned about other types
of risk including interest rate, regulatory change, climate change, technology and
cyber risks, which were identified by 85.71% of the population. Interestingly, one
The Types of Business Risk…29
entity (Tata Steel) regarded technology and cyber risks exclusively as opportuni-
ties. Interest rate risks are related to bank failures and the instability of the banking
system. Concerns about climate change risks mainly concern the need to meet
stricter environmental regulations, the unavoidable impact on the natural environ-
ment, climate change including global warming effects and obligations related to
land rehabilitation programmes and waste utilisation. With regard to tax risks and
demographic change risks, 71.43% of the entities analysed express concern about
changes in local fiscal policies and the implementation of new fiscal mechanisms,
as well as the need for adapting to the conditions of aging societies. Social and
political unrest and health risks are identified by more than 57.14% of the popula-
tion. Another concern relates to the threat of global terrorism and the increasing
number of people’s claims to their social rights. Three of the analysed entities
cited customer innovation risks, resulting from customers’ changing requirements.
A review of the study’s results leads to the conclusion that the identification
of types (sources) of risk presented in IRs confirms company executives’ high
awareness of risk-related issues exerting a positive impact on entities’ image. In the
context of widely circulated information about threats to business activities, this
demonstrates the ability to identify phenomena inherent in their core activities.
Identification of risk is presented by most entities in the form of risk maps, which
show the scope and likelihood of threats, referencing them to the disclosures of
internal and external respondents. Also, IRs describe trends for particular types
of risk (increasing, decreasing or unchanging). Being aware of business risk,
entities propose appropriate measures in response to the threats and current
conditions they identify.
5. Concluding Remarks
Integrated reporting poses a great challenge to accounting and identifies new
areas of activities which deserve in-depth analyses. In the context of the benefits
resulting from integrated reporting, attention should also be given to possible
threats related to the presentation of data in accordance with IIRC proposals,
especially non-financial information. Difficulties result from the assessment of
the reliability of disclosures, the a measurement of which is very complex or some-
times impossible. Such a situation encourages researchers to analyse new issues,
including those related to identifying risk.
The foregoing analysis confirms the hypothesis that an integrated report
is a potential source of information that can be used to identify business risk.
The problem is that integrated reports have got some weakness. First, the
process of identifying relevant information is inefficient. Second, over a longer
time horizon, the measurement of phenomena for the purpose of verifying and
assessing external auditors is ineffective. To find solutions to the above problems,
further research will be required to develop techniques and tools related to disclo-
sures, and to keep abreast of new trends in integrated reporting. This process will
be enhanced by implementing models for supporting the measurement of risk,
adapted to the existing conditions.
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Rodzaje ryzyka gospodarczego występujące w sprawozdawczości
Celem artykułu jest wskazanie możliwości identyfikacji ryzyka gospodarczego na
podstawie danych zawartych w sprawozdawczości zintegrowanej. Jako metodę badaw-
czą zastosowano przegląd literatury krajowej i zagranicznej oraz przeprowadzono analizę
empiryczną ujawnionych raportów zintegrowanych za rok 2016. Struktura raportów,
zgodna z najnowszymi trendami oraz zaleceniami światowymi w zakresie raportowania
zintegrowanego, potwierdziła założoną w artykule tezę. Podsumowanie rozważań stanowi
zachętę do zainteresowania badaniami nad możliwością weryfikacji i oceny ujawnień
w zakresie identyfikacji ryzyka zawartych w sprawozdawczości zintegrowanej.
Słowa kluczowe: sprawozdawczość zintegrowana, ryzyko gospodarcze, identyfikacja
ryzyka gospodarczego, raport zintegrowany.