XBRL: the views of stakeholders

The purpose of this research was to conduct a questionnaire survey of accountants in UK listed companies (FTSE All Share), external auditors, tax practitioners and representatives of the investment management and analyst communities to investigate their views on how the development of second-generation digital reporting in general, and XBRL in particular, could affect the future of the business reporting and analysis process.

ACCA research report 111

Theresa Dunne
University of Dundee

Professor Christine Helliar
University of Dundee

Andrew Lymer
University of Birmingham

Rania Mousa
University of Birmingham



The study explored digital reporting using a questionnaire survey of stakeholder perceptions of the technology. Chapter 2 provides some context and background to the research and presents an overview of the digital reporting literature. In particular, the key studies exploring the use of Internet reporting in general are outlined. The chapter also provides an overview of XBRL and discusses the benefits and difficulties associated with the technology. This background is designed to provide some context for the empirical work described later in the report.

Chapter 3 outlines the research approach employed in the study. The research was facilitated by means of a questionnaire survey to a variety of corporate stakeholders. This questionnaire was designed to:

  • examine stakeholders’ involvement in Internet reporting in general 
  • investigate stakeholders’ awareness and understanding of XBRL in particular 
  • ascertain the perspectives of a range of interested parties on the benefits and difficulties associated with the technology 
  • explore the implications of digital reporting for auditing and assurance 
  • investigate the need for regulation of digital reporting activities 
  • ascertain whether there is a need for improved training and education on the role of XBRL.

Chapter 4 outlines the results of the questionnaire survey. The perspectives of preparers, tax practitioners, users and auditors on digital reporting facilitate a more holistic understanding of the implications of the technology.

Chapter 5 draws on the evidence presented in the empirical chapters to highlight key findings and provide recommendations for practice.