Digital technology and corporate reporting
Regulators have introduced digital corporate reporting mandates worldwide and now require firms in significant jurisdictions, including the US, EU, Japan, UK and China, to submit digital corporate financial reports (Troshani & Rowbottom, 2022). More recently, developments in 'sustainability' reporting standardisation indicate that digital technology will be utilised in standardising, disseminating and regulating sustainability reports (European Commission, 2021; European Council, 2022; IFRS Foundation, 2022; US SEC, 2022).
These applications of digital technology have created significant scope for transforming the nature of accounting standardisation and how corporate reporting information is prepared and consumed. By doing so, digital technologies offer opportunities for new ways of measuring, recording, verifying, analysing, and reporting organisational activity in corporate reports (Al-Htaybat & Alberti-Alhtaybat, 2017; Bhimani & Willcocks, 2014; Lombardi & Secundo, 2020; Lowe et al., 2012). By enabling users to access large-scale corporate reporting datasets freely, digital reporting can also disrupt the market for corporate information.
Broader research looking at the interaction between technology and corporate practices has long established the constitutive role of socio-technical arrangements, of which digital corporate reporting is an instance, specifically demonstrating that technological consequences materialise in practice whilst the technology is in use and may often be different to what is expected (Orlikowski, 1996, 2000; Orlikowski & Barley, 2001; Orlikowski & Scott, 2016; Schultze & Orlikowski, 2004).
However, much of the literature analysing digital corporate reporting treats the introduction of technology as an exogenous intervention and seeks to examine its empirical associations with various capital market indicators (e.g., Bhattacharya et al., 2018; Blankespoor, 2019; Kim et al., 2019). Furthermore, the designs adopted in this research do not precisely observe why and how digital corporate reporting practices may be responsible for the effects observed in the capital markets (Hoitash et al., 2021; Troshani & Rowbottom, 2021 ). It remains unclear how digital corporate reporting shapes (and is shaped by) the accounting processes of preparers, information users, auditors and standard-setters. Consequently, there remains a space for interpretive and critical approaches and interdisciplinary inductive and abductive studies of digital corporate reporting to explore how the nature of corporate reporting itself may be changing in the digital age.
Despite being characterised as 'technology-neutral', digital corporate reporting challenges established principles underlying the existing practices of standard-setting, corporate report preparation, assurance and consumption of reported information by users. For example, a body of emergent research provides early evidence demonstrating how the digital 'tail' can wag the accounting 'dog', challenging long-established, entrenched positions of the primacy of accounting standards (Locke et al., 2018; Rowbottom et al., 2021; Troshani et al., 2019). The IASB has also identified challenges associated with users' digital consumption of financial information, the broader adoption of digital corporate reporting by preparers, and the quality and accessibility of digital financial information for users (IFRS Foundation, 2021; Tarca, 2020). In the digital realm, corporate reporting information can be more easily atomised and disembedded from the context to which it is linked than human readable, paper-based formats. Digital technologies, including XBRL, iXBRL, blockchain and artificial intelligence, can transform what we understand by a 'corporate report', 'reporting' and how reporting information is assured.
This AAAJ special issue calls for research manuscripts investigating how the introduction of digital technology influences how corporate reports are prepared, used, standardised and assured. We broadly define the scope of corporate reporting to include financial and non-financial, sustainability reporting that entities provide to information users voluntarily or in response to statutory requirements. Accordingly, we encourage authors who are interested in contributing to this Special Issue to submit original research looking at the areas including (but not limited) to the following topics and research questions:
How does digital technology affect corporate reporting processes and disclosure practices?
How is digital technology being enacted in non-financial reporting and sustainability reporting?
Does the nature of reporting data and information (both financial and 'non-financial') shape the manner and extent to which different digital technologies can effectively support corporate reporting?
How does digital reporting affect preparer behaviour about issues including (but not limited to) disclosure choices and compliance with accounting standards?
Does introducing digital corporate reporting lead to more similar, homogeneous reports?
Does technology change standard-setting and accounting standards? If so, why and how does this happen?
How does digital corporate reporting interact with principles-based accounting?
How and why is digital technology shaping the preparation, use and standardisation of non-financial, sustainability reporting standardisation?
Will digital reporting influence future disclosure standards?
What processes are used for auditing and assuring digital corporate reporting? (including (but not limited to) issues about data-level assurance processes, materiality assessments of digital corporate reports, and digital reporting internal controls)?
How do existing audit standards accommodate the use of digital technologies in corporate reporting processes?
How do different types of investors consume digital corporate reporting information? Does it change existing analysis practices? If so, why and how does this happen?
How do regulators make use of digital corporate reporting information?
Does digital corporate reporting information affect regulators' traditional monitoring and supervision roles? If so, how does this happen?
Submissions for the AAAJ special issues should be made through ScholarOne at: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/aaaj
Author guidelines and format for submitted manuscripts can be found on the journal's website: https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/aaaj#author-guidelines
Submissions open: ScholarOne submission for the Special Issue will open on July 1, 2024.
Submission deadline: Full paper submission deadline: October 1 2024.
AAAJ Special Issue Workshop
An online workshop will be organised to support authors planning to submit the Special Issue. The workshop will be held during the period March-April 2024. Please note that participating in the workshop is not required for submitting a manuscript for consideration for the Special Issue. Additionally, participation in the workshop does not guarantee acceptance in the Special Issue. Authors interested in participating in the workshop must notify Special Issue editors via email by December 1 2023 and will be notified of the workshop format by January 15 2024.
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Bhattacharya, N., Cho, Y. J. & Kim, J. B. (2018). Leveling the playing field between large and small institutions: evidence from the SEC's XBRL mandate. The Accounting Review, 93(5), 51-71.
Bhimani, A. & Willcocks, L. (2014). Digitisation, 'Big Data' and the transformation of accounting information. Accounting and Business Research, 44(4), 469-490.
Blankespoor, E. (2019). The impact of information processing costs on firm disclosure choice: Evidence from the XBRL mandate. Journal of Accounting Research, 57(4), 919-967.
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Troshani, I., Locke, J. & Rowbottom, N. (2019). Transformation of accounting through digital standardisation: tracing the construction of the IFRS Taxonomy. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 32(1), 133-162.
Troshani, I. & Rowbottom, N. (2021 ). Digital corporate reporting: research developments and implications. Australian Accounting Review, 31(3), 213-232.
Troshani, I. & Rowbottom, N. (2022). Digital Corporate Reporting: Global Experiences from the G20 and Implications for Policy Formulation. Available: https://www.cpaaustralia.com.au/-/media/project/cpa/corporate/documents/tools-and-resources/financial-reporting/digital-corporate-reporting-report.pdf. Melbourne: CPA Australia.
US SEC. (2022). The Enhancement and Standardisation of Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors. 17 CFR 210, 229, 232, 239, and 249 [Release Nos. 33-11042; 34-94478; File No. S7-10-22] RIN 3235-AM87. Available: https://www.sec.gov/rules/proposed/2022/33-11042.pdf: US Securities and Exchange Commission.