What is it about?

The authors examine the multiple capitals concept of the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC). Three of the authors co-authored the IIRC's Capitals Background Paper and the paper reviews the literature on capitals to consider the formation of the metaphor of multiple capitals. This is reflected upon while recognising the varied involvement of the authors with the IIRC capitals conception. The challenges of conceiving a multiple capitals framework are critiqued with reference to empirical and theoretical contributions drawn from recognition of planetary boundaries, gendered capitals, power and intersection of capitals and important practical and conceptual insights raised by papers in this special issue.

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Why is it important?

The authors find that the agenda of the IIRC is a shift from a “financial capital market system” to an “inclusive capital market system” through recognition of multiple capitals and integrated reporting and thinking. It is emphasised that their vision is not intended as a call for the measurement of these various capitals in monetary terms alone. Some of the challenges and opportunities when reporting on multiple capitals are recognised. These include: use of the capitals terminology; analysing connectivity between the capitals; the extent to which value created (and depleted) by each capital should be monetised and highlight possibilities for future research.


The work behind settling on the six capitals of integrated reporting was much more extensive than many realise. There was an extensive consultation processes where feedback was carefully considered and also an extensive literature review.

Professor Carol A Adams
Durham University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Exploring metaphors of capitals and the framing of multiple capitals, Sustainability Accounting Management and Policy Journal, September 2015, Emerald,
DOI: 10.1108/sampj-05-2015-0032.
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