Understanding Integrated Thinking: evidence from the field, the development of a framework and avenues for future research

Cristiano Busco, Fabrizio Granà, Giulia Achilli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose: This study develops a framework to systematize the emerging literature on Integrated Thinking and offers empirical insights on how Integrated Thinking has been practiced within an organization. The paper also introduces the contributions that compose the special issue “Exploring Integrated Thinking in action: Theoretical interpretations and evidence from the field” and outlines avenues for future research.

Design/Methodology/approach: The paper critically reviews the literature on Integrated Thinking and proposes a framework that classifies prior studies into three areas: Integrated Thinking and sustainable strategies; Integrating Thinking in practice; the concept and measures of Integrated Thinking. The study also provides an illustration of the ways in which Integrated Thinking has been adopted by a European energy company to shape and execute its purpose-driven strategy, as well as the benefits that have emerged. The paper uses the framework developed from the literature to introduce the contributions of the special issue and to suggest future research opportunities.

Findings: The study shows that while the literature on Integrated Thinking is still in its infancy, the evidence emerging from contemporary organizations support empirical-driven research and stimulate a variety of theoretical and empirical contributions that will enable the academic debate to move forward.

Originality: The theoretical and practical insights offered by this study, together with those provided by the papers of this Meditari Accountancy Research special issue, will foster future research on Integrated Thinking. In particular, the framework developed in this paper may be drawn upon by researchers to plan new research projects on Integrated Thinking and its adoption within organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)673-690
Number of pages18
JournalMeditari Accountancy Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2021


  • Integrated Thinking
  • literature review
  • case study
  • future research agenda
  • special issue papers

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