Original Research

Components of integrated thinking: Evidence from South African listed companies

Dusan Ecim
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 55, No 1 | a4080 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v55i1.4080 | © 2024 Dusan Ecim | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 May 2023 | Published: 31 January 2024

About the author(s)

Dusan Ecim, School of Accountancy, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


Purpose: This article explores three components that need to be addressed as part of an integrated thinking strategy and provides evidence on the state of integrated thinking application in a developing economy.

Design/methodology/approach: The levels of integrated thinking among South African listed companies are obtained using an integrated thinking tool developed and tested by prior literature. The data are then summarised and aggregated into different components using a principal component analysis (PCA). The components are used to develop the core strategies organisations employ to adopt an integrated thinking logic.

Findings/results: Three components account for the highest percentage of the variance in integrated thinking levels and can be used as a reference point to institutionalise an integrated thinking logic in an organisation. Organisations need to focus on: (1) a holistic business awareness and managing of, and reporting on, value creation; (2) stakeholder awareness, communication and corporate accountability; and (3) governance, accountability for sustainability and assurance.

Practical implications: The components offer organisations a practical means to assess and develop their integrated thinking strategies and highlight important sustainability-related implications in a developing economy.

Originality/value: This article refines the indicators of integrated thinking used in prior literature to identify the dominant components that account for the variance in integrated thinking levels among organisations. An organisation can use these components to identify which stage of an integrated thinking logic the organisation is in and how the components can be used as a roadmap to a sustainable outlook and enhanced legitimacy.


corporate accountability; governance; integrated thinking; integrated reporting; sustainability; value creation

JEL Codes

M42: Auditing

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 9: Industry, innovation and infrastructure


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Crossref Citations

1. A review of research performed on the approach to the subsequent measurement of goodwill
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doi: 10.4102/jef.v17i1.928