Stakeholder Engagement in Internet Financial Reporting: The Diffusion of XBRL in the UK

Theresa Dunne, Christine Helliar, Andrew Lymer, Rania Mousa

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    31 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Internet financial reporting is now widespread with most medium and large companies in the developed world providing a wide variety of financial data online. However, much of this information mirrors the paper versions of financial reports, often with little attempt to enhance the decision usability of the data, providing a so called ‘first generation’ of online reporting (ICAEW, 2004). eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) has been designed to provide a ‘second generation’ of online reporting, specifically to enhance the usability of the data. Documents rendered in XBRL are digitally-enabled so that it is easier for stakeholders to extract information directly into spreadsheets, or any other XBRL-enabled analysis software, without the need to re-key data thus providing significant improvements in information flows and enhancing inter-company comparability.

    XBRL consortia have spent more than 15 years promulgating the use of this technology within the business and government communities. However, despite their efforts XBRL has not become widely diffused, there is little stakeholder engagement and very few organisations have voluntarily adopted XBRL in practice.

    The results of a questionnaire survey in the UK indicate that awareness of XBRL, and second generation reporting more generally, resides in key champions but there is little diffusion outside this narrow set of stakeholders. Regulatory engagement seems to be the only impetus for diffusion and better channels of communication within stakeholder networks, such as between regulators, preparers, users and the XBRL community are needed. This paper suggests that currently the supply-push for XBRL is failing to produce effective use of this technology in the UK. Greater regulatory commitment is now needed to create an impetus for XBRL such as creating tools and making publicly available, accessible, repositories of XBRL data. Unless this happens, diffusion will not occur, and the demand-pull which is now needed will vanish and XBRL will fade and die.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-182
    Number of pages15
    JournalBritish Accounting Review
    Volume45
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2013

    Keywords

    • XBRL
    • Financial reporting
    • Diffusion
    • Internet reporting
    • Stakeholder engagement

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