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XBRL: An (Open) Source of Enlightenment or Disillusion?

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  • Joanne Locke
  • Alan Lowe

Abstract

Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is being adopted by European regulators as a data standard for the exchange of business information. This paper examines the approach of XBRL International (XII) to the meta-data standard's development and diffusion. We theorise the development of XBRL using concepts drawn from a model of successful open source projects. Comparison of the open source model to XBRL enables us to identify a number of interesting similarities and differences. In common with open source projects, the benefits and progress of XBRL have been overstated and 'hyped' by enthusiastic participants. While XBRL is an open data standard in terms of access to the equivalent of its 'source code' we find that the governance structure of the XBRL consortium is significantly different to a model open source approach. The barrier to participation that is created by requiring paid membership and a focus on transacting business at physical conferences and meetings is identified as particularly critical. Decisions about the technical structure of XBRL, the regulator-led pattern of adoption and the organisation of XII are discussed. Finally areas for future research are identified.

Suggested Citation

  • Joanne Locke & Alan Lowe, 2007. "XBRL: An (Open) Source of Enlightenment or Disillusion?," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(3), pages 585-623.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:16:y:2007:i:3:p:585-623 DOI: 10.1080/09638180701507163
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ackert, Lucy F. & Tian, Yisong S., 2001. "Efficiency in index options markets and trading in stock baskets," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(9), pages 1607-1634, September.
    2. Shlomo Benartzi & Richard H. Thaler, 1995. "Myopic Loss Aversion and the Equity Premium Puzzle," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 73-92.
    3. Tian, Yisong S., 2004. "Too much of a good incentive? The case of executive stock options," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(6), pages 1225-1245, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gostimir Dejan, 2015. "XBRL Standard for Financial Reporting in Croatia: Current State and Perspectives," Business Systems Research, De Gruyter Open, vol. 6(2), pages 31-40, September.
    2. Florin Radu, 2016. "XBRL – The business Language in the Digital Age," Ovidius University Annals, Economic Sciences Series, Ovidius University of Constantza, Faculty of Economic Sciences, vol. 0(2), pages 589-594, February.
    3. Valentin Florentin Dumitru, 2011. "The Impact of Information Technologies on the Organization and Functioning of the Company," The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC journal, Academy of Economic Studies - Bucharest, Romania, vol. 13(Special N), pages 754-770, November.
    4. Cristina Stefanescu, 2014. "XBRL-Based Projects for Financial and Prudential Reporting – an Empirical Analysis in European Banking System," Acta Universitatis Danubius. OEconomica, Danubius University of Galati, pages 76-86.
    5. Saiful Azam, 2014. "Perceived Environmental Factors And The Intention To Adopt A Standard Business Reporting Facility: A Survey Of Australian Corporate Cfos," Asian Academy of Management Journal of Accounting and Finance (AAMJAF), Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia, pages 147-173.

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