Live stats of Internet users show clearly that the Internet has increased in its use over de last two decades, and it still does. Users are defined as individuals who have access to the Internet at home, these stats do not say anything about the frequency of use. In 1995, only 0.8% of the world population had access to the Internet at home. Nowadays this number has increased to over 40% of the world, whereas most developed countries are even more penetrated. Bermuda is relatively the most penetrated country, 97.75% of its residents was an Internet user in 2014, whereas big countries such as the US and China had a penetration of respectively 86.75% and 46.03%. Absolutely, this means that there are over three billion Internet users around the globe (Internet Live Stats, 2015).
Due to this increase in its accessibility, the Internet can now be called a widespread medium. This medium has the benefit over traditional mediums such as newspapers that it has international reach, whereas newspapers may only reach a local audience. This medium may therefore be used as a communication device of financial information to a widespread and international audience. The act of communicating financial information over the Internet is referred to with terms as Corporate Internet Reporting and Internet Financial Reporting. Financial reporting via the Internet may have a lot of advantages relative to traditional paper-filings (Ashbaugh, Johnstone, & Warfield, 1999) (Lymer, 1999) but it also is found to encounter some problems as mentioned by Debreceny and Gray (2001). These problems involve resource discovery, attribute recognition and standards.
XBRL, eXtensible Business Reporting Language, is a rather new way of reporting financial information to stakeholders over the Internet. It is thought of as a way to solve some of the challenges mentioned before. Benefits of XBRL are discussed in many descriptive articles as those of Hodge (2004) and Jensen (2001). XBRL is among others expected to increase comparability, efficiency and decrease the information gap between user groups. Those are widespread notions but Debreceny and Gray (2001) even state in their conclusion that reporting mechanisms such as XBRL may improve the value of financial reporting for stakeholders, whereas Yoon (2011) states that stock prices may increase due to XBRL-filings. Such findings suggest XBRL may have a significant impact on how reporting is done and the effect it might have.
The SEC has mandated the phase-in of XBRL during the 2009-2011 period. These filings are supplements to the regulatory paper-filings. The phase-in of XBRL means that in the first filing, only financial statement line items have to be tagged and notes only as blocks. The year after that, also notes should be extensively tagged. XBRL is not only being developed and implemented in the US, but also in other developed countries in the world such as Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Taiwan (Debreceny & Gray, 2001). Even in the Netherlands, the process of implementation has started since 2013 (Pasmooij & Hilvoorde, van, 2012). The system is thus quite widespread already but it’s only in its beginning stage.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate how the information set provided by financial reporting is being influenced by the use XBRL. This research is interesting since all prior research focusses on the overall benefits, not necessarily on the effect it has on the information set that??s being provided. Findings may help XBRL in being accepted in two ways. First, investors may be motivated to make use of XBRL-filings since high quality information may affect the efficiency of decision-making. Studies such as those of Debreceny and Gray (2001) and Yoon (2011) suggest that there is a relation between the way reporting is done and firm value and thus stock prices. If a relation between those is in place, this must mean the investment decision is being influenced by the information provided through XBRL-filings. End-user acceptance is necessary for the successful implementation of a system. Second, if information quality tends to increase due to the use of XBRL for financial reporting purposes, this might cause more efficient decision making which may cause firm value to increase.
This study therefor focusses on the question: How is the quality of the information set provided by financial reporting being influenced by XBRL? This question is being answered by the use of a literature review of scientific articles. The remainder of this paper is organised as follows. Section 2 contains the theoretical framework necessary to understand the research, financial reporting as well as how the Internet has changed this, developments such as Internet Financial Reporting and XBRL are being introduced in this part. Section 3 discusses how comparability, information asymmetry and reliability are being influenced by the use of XBRL. In Section 4 limitations to this research are discussed. Finally, Section 5 provides a conclusion of this research in which the question asked is being answered.
To be able to research the question provided in the introduction, it is necessary to understand some definitions and mechanisms. This chapter provides a brief overview of what financial reporting is and how the Internet has changed how financial reporting is being done.
2.1 Financial Reporting
IAS 1 (FASB, 2007) states: The objective of general purpose financial statements is to provide information about the financial position, financial performance, and cash flows of an entity that is useful to a wide range of users in making economic decisions. The content of financial reports is standardized through financial reporting standards such as GAAP ‘ Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ‘ and IFRS ‘ International Financial Reporting Standards. The financial report includes the statement of the financial position, the statement of comprehensive income, the statement of changes in equity, the statement of cash flows as well as notes to the financial statements and possibly other regulatory additions. Financial statements are the key part of the financial report since these tend to address the objective from IAS 1, they provide information about the firms?? assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses as well as gains and losses, contributions by and distributions to owners, and cash flows. Along with the notes, these should provide a reliable view of the firm’s financial position, financial performance, and cash flows.
The need for financial reporting arises from the separation of ownership and control. Ownership is with the capital providers, from the agency theory point of view these are seen as principal. Control is with the management of the corporation, management is responsible for the value creation by means of the capital provided. Managers are typically seen as agents by agency theorists. Owners should be able to control management through investment choices which demand information. This indicates the need for financial reporting, it makes efficient decision making possible. Efficient assumes no information asymmetry exists, both the principal as the agent have the same information available. The agency problem encountered at this point, information asymmetry presumably does exist, explains the value of auditing. Auditing provides assurance on whether the financial report fairly presents the financial position of the corporation in accordance with a financial reporting framework such as GAAP or IFRS. Reliable information is necessary for efficient decision making by capital providers such as investors.
2.2 Internet Financial Reporting
The increase in accessibility and in use of the Internet over the last two decades has caused it to be an effective medium for communicating. Mainly this growth in use has been studied in many articles such as Deller (1999) and Debreceny and Gray (2002). Deller focussed on the widespread use of the Internet in the US, UK and Germany whereas Debreceny and Gray focussed on the variations in the use of the Internet for financial reporting. Deller found that by January 1998, the Internet was already considered a useful medium in distributing financial information since respectively 91%, 72% and 71% of US, UK and German corporations used their websites for investor relation activities. The objective of those activities is comparable to that of financial reporting as its purpose is to provide information to investors for capital allocation decisions.
Internet Financial Reporting (now referred to as IFR) is the reporting of financial information through the Internet and this has been done since the mid-1990s. The accessibility and use of the Internet has grown and so has the number of web pages available via the World Wide Web, this raised a number of problems for the way financial reporting via the Internet was done. First, the location of the information was difficult as no standards existed for this, this is the resource discovery problem. Second, there was no standardized schema for the classification of data either, referred to as the attribute recognition problem. Third, financial reporting on the Internet is done inconsistently, the standards problem (Debreceny & Gray, 2001).
IFR can be divided into three stages as indicated in a study of the IASC (1999). In the first stage, the Internet is only used to provide reports identical to the traditional paper filings through formats such as PDF. The second stage is characterized by the same information only through the use of a format that allows for Web interaction such as HTML. Finally in the third stage, additional information is provided that could not be provided efficiently through the use of paper filings. These stages are used in the studies of Debreceny and Gray (2002), Beattie and Pratt (2003) and Lymer and Debreceny (2003).
PDF, Portable Document Format, is an Adobe Acrobat format used by many corporations for reporting purposes. This format enables firms to define how information is presented to stakeholders without it being altered. PDF is especially used during the first phase of IFR since its presentation is exactly the same as that of traditional printed filings. The identical reports offered through the use of PDF only beat the traditional filings in being presented by the Internet. As previous discussed, the Internet is now a widespread medium useful for communications. Mass audiences can be reached only Adobe Acrobat through Adobe’s own search engine (Debreceny & Gray, 2001).
HTML, HyperText Markup Language, makes use of metatags. Metatags contain data about the data. This information can be used by search engines. It probably does not solve the attribute recognition problem mentioned before for a variety of reasons such as the tags used for HTML are not standardized, not all search engines use of this kind of data although it might be available, financial statement terminology is not standardized and the format has limited semantic power. Semantic power refers to the power to have a meaning, HTML thus not give a clear relationship between the tags and what is represented by it, it provides mostly layout information to the browser (Debreceny & Gray, 2001).
The use of the Internet for financial reporting has several benefits when compared to traditional financial reporting. First, the audience to whom reports can be distributed is much greater since Internet use is now widespread among both corporations as with people. Second, since reports do not have to be printed anymore, which must ultimately lead to cost savings. Third, analysts now often have to re-enter the financial information provided by printed reports for them to be able to perform any analyses on the data. If this information would be offered through a readily analysable and comparable format, this would reduce time spent and errors made during this process and thus increase efficiency.
2.3.1 Development of XBRL
XBRL is a XML-based open standard for communicating financial information at a standardized manner. The AICPA first started with some investigations regarding the development of a XML-based financial reporting language in 1998. XML is short for eXtensible Markup Language, it’s a mechanism that may help in the attribute recognition on the Internet through the use of tagging. This lead to a prototype of the eXtensible Financial Reporting Markup Language, XFRML, as it was then called, by the end of 1998. The language was then only focussed at external financial reporting, based on U.S. GAAP and for commercial and industrial enterprises. Nowadays, this focus has spread, namely to other regulatory purposes such as tax returns, to other standards such as IFRS and to nearly all industries (Debreceny, Gray, & Rahman, 2002).
By the year 2000, the name was changed to XBRL, abbreviate for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. XBRL is thus a XML??-based reporting language that makes use of electronic ‘tagging’, it’s different from XML as this particular language focusses on the communication of financial information instead of providing a mechanism to describe the structure of documents. This tagging of data has the ability to improve the accuracy and efficiency of data by providing information about the data through the tags. It is also expected to increase comparability and decrease the information gap between user groups, therefor improving analysability and decision making. The use of XBRL makes information interchangeable between different information systems and thus enhances the exchange of business information (XBRL International , 2015a).
2.3.2 XBRL Taxonomy
The tags used for XBRL-filings contain information about what information is communicated by that data, these are gathered in a hierarchical taxonomy. A taxonomy is thus like a dictionary for data. Taxonomies contain both concepts, along with their attributes, and relationships between concepts, these relationships make a taxonomy hierarchically structured (XBRL International, 2015c). Attributes of the concept may include elements such as its meaning, its datatype, the period it refers to, whether it’s a debit or a credit element and its class of the financial report it is part of such as Assets on the Balance Sheet. The meaning of a concept is just a short description of what type of values are to be included. The datatype may be values, units or even shares (Debreceny, Gray, & Rahman, 2002).
The taxonomy does also include relationships such as calculations, presentation and dimensions, these are called link bases. Calculations refer to how concepts are connected to each other, for example: Cash and cash equivalents + Current Assets + Non-current Assets = Assets. In this simple example the subordination of the line items is given by a parent-child hierarchy, Assets can be seen as the parent whereas the other line items are children. A presentation link base defines how the instance document, the XBRL-document that can be read and understood manually, should look. For example, how the different line items in the Balance Sheet should be ordered. Finally, the dimensions refer to which structures should be used to support different segments such as the industry it’s part of, these dimensions of the taxonomy may indicate industry-specific values such as those of the Financial Services segment. Revenues may be indicated in the HTML-filing of the firm as FinancialServiceRevenues, the appropriate tag found in the taxonomy is in that case Revenues in the FinancialService dimension. Every line items gets its own tag that refers to the taxonomy and can be understood, analysed, used, and so on by computers (Debreceny, Gray, & Rahman, 2002).
Taxonomies are developed by entities such as regulators, accounting standard setters and government agencies. They are based upon accounting standards such as U.S. GAAP and IFRS. Accounting standards are quite flexible, it leaves room for deviation which causes financial statements to differ between corporations . Because of that flexibility, not all possible concepts can be identified and contained within the foundation taxonomy. Some concepts contained by the regulatory filings in a format such as PDF or HTML may not be covered by the applicable taxonomy (XBRL International, 2015b). When no appropriate tag is available in the applicable foundation taxonomy, extensions should be developed by the corporation itself. The foundation taxonomy cannot be altered, but an extension taxonomy can be developed to account for provider-level differences. Extensions are only possible if the taxonomy is open, it encourages firm-level and industry-level differences, as is the case for U.S. GAAP and IFRS taxonomies (Debreceny R. S., et al., 2011).
XBRL taxonomies are standardized although extensions and other taxonomies are allowed. Multiple foundation taxonomies exist since almost every government develops one based upon their applicable accounting standards framework. If the foundation taxonomy is not sufficient for a given corporation, it is expected to develop extensions which give firm-specific information. As indicated before, HTML does not involve standardized tags which limits the benefit of those tags, at this point XBRL indicates to be a clear improvement as compared to HTML (Debreceny & Gray, 2001).
By combining all tags in a XBRL-document, an instance document can be created that can be exchanged over the Internet and read by computers. An instance document can be used by stakeholders such as investors and analysts to analyse the financial information contained by the tags. By the use of a style sheet, information can be put in either format by every user individually to make the tags visually readable. This enhances the accuracy and efficiency of analysing since it’s not necessary anymore to re-enter every element of the financial report for it to be analysable. Accuracy is improved since re-entering may come with typo’s and efficiency since less time is wasted to the mechanics aspect of analyses which involves the retrieval and gathering of information.
2.3.3 Implementation of XBRL
Although research had already taken off since 1998, it was not until 2005 that the first filings in XBRL-format had been done in the US. These were voluntary filings and were done through the Voluntary Filings Program. This program was meant to help stakeholders gain an insight in and improve the process of filing in the XBRL-format. The filings done during this VFP were seen as deemed not filed, this created a limitation of the liability (Bartley, Chen, & Taylor, 2011).
As of June 2009, the SEC started mandatory filing in XBRL through a phase-in process. This process meant that the largest filers were mandated to file their financial reports in XBRL for the reporting period ending on or after June 15 of that year. The first filing was characterized by tagging of all of the line items of the financial statements and only blocks of the disclosures in the notes. The second filing was characterized by equal tagging-requirements for the financial statements, but the disclosures had to be tagged in detail now too. This meant that every element disclosed in the notes had to be individually tagged. The second phase-in process started from June 2011 for the remaining filers and follows the same pattern as it did for the first filers. Some corporations already started this filing as off April 2009, this was voluntarily. The phase-in process enjoyed a limitation of the liability as was the case during the VFP, they were not to be held liable for failures to meet tagging requirements during that period. They were expected to correct such an error immediately as it was detected (Debreceny R. S., et al., 2011).
An important notion made by the SEC is that XBRL-filings should be similar to the traditional filings of the corporation, possibly in a format such as HTML or PDF. Both numerical as non-numerical facts contained by the official HTML-filing should also be contained by the XBRL-filing, this covers the full financial report including both financial statements, notes, and other regulatory additions. Those facts should also reflect exactly the same information, this creates the need for extensions since XBRL-filings should be aligned with the traditional filings and some line items found in the HTML-filings may not be covered by the foundation taxonomy (SEC, 2015).
XBRL may eventually even be used to tag the transactions recorded in an information system within a corporation. This allows the system to independently aggregate those transactions into a financial report by the use of the information provided through those tags. It would be able to exchange and analyse the financial report without the involvement of any people. This kind of XBRL is called XBRL Global Ledger, which also has the benefit of not losing any information due to aggregation of the data. Individual transactions can still be ‘seen’, along with their details (XBRL International , 2015a).
3. Factors Affecting the Quality of Information
In this section, factors that might influence the quality of the information set provided through the use of XBRL are evaluated. The main factors expected to influence the information set are: Comparability, Information asymmetry and Reliability. The remainder of this section discusses some factors that might also have an influence on information quality, this discussion is only limited.
The research of Debreceny et al. (2011) refers to a note made by the CFA Institute in a report from 2009, this report states that timeliness, transparency, comparability and consistency is a requirement investors set for information. Bovee et al. (2002) also notes that SFAC No. 2 usefulness of information is affected by, among others, comparability. This indicates that there exists a need for comparable information among stakeholders. Decision making under uncertainty, as is the case in the real world, involves the activities of goal formulation, problem identification, alternatives generation and evaluation and selection (Schwenk, 1984). Evaluation of alternatives is only possible if alternatives are comparable, this explains the need for the comparability of data provided by XBRL-filings. Comparability is discussed in articles such as those of Bovee (2002), Debreceny (2005), Vasarhelyi (2012) and Bons??n (2009), and is evaluated in this subsection.
As mentioned in Section 2.3.2, two kind of taxonomies exist. First of all, the foundation taxonomy which includes most of the concepts of given accounting standards such as GAAP or IFRS. Standardization enhances information comparability but there also exists a need for customized information, different information for different users (Jensen & Xiao, 2001). Therefor the second taxonomy is the extension taxonomy that includes all extensions used by a firm to tag all line items from their financial report. The need for the extension taxonomy rises because the SEC mandated that the XBRL-filings should accurately align with the traditional financial report in a format such as PDF or HTML. Since not all line items included in a corporation’s individual report may be contained by the applicable foundation taxonomy, an extension taxonomy should be developed. Extensions are both discussed as to enhance predictive and feedback value as well as to decrease comparability.
This decrease of comparability is the main focus of this section. Extensions are the consequences of aggregation or disaggregation of the firms’ disclosures compared to the foundation taxonomy. Complete comparability may be achieved by only using tags found within the foundation taxonomy. This level of conformity is actually not possible since this would cause XBRL-filings to differentiate from traditional filings, which would harm consistency. Different kinds of extensions are acknowledged by Debreceny et al. (2011), namely: unnecessary extensions, extensions to reflect filer-specific disclosures, and extension that aggregate or disaggregate taxonomy elements.
Debreceny et al. (2011) first focused on the first filing of firms between April 15, 2009, and June 30, 2010. This sample contained 1.565 filings and 12% of the tags used, or elements tagged, were extensions. Most extensions were categorized as unnecessary, this qualification refers to the case where an extension is semantically equivalent to an already existing concept in the foundation taxonomy U.S. GAAP. Thus instead of the extension, the identical concept from the U.S. GAAP taxonomy should have been used, this would have enhanced comparability. One cause for these errors might be that such concepts only exist in the disclosure section of the taxonomy while it is a financial statement concept in the firms’ report. Filers are still required by the SEC to use these concepts and only change some of the link bases. Another cause may be that filers do not use the dimensions as explained in Section 2, that allow for segment disclosures with the available concepts. These errors may diminish overtime since they may be related to the fact that first-filers are inexperienced with XBRL-filing and taxonomies.
Extensions to reflect filer-specific disclosures are based upon concepts that are not addressed by the U.S. GAAP taxonomy at all. These are necessary to reflect information given by the firms’ disclosures and are stated to be useful (Bartley, Chen, & Taylor, 2011). Most of these actually do not offer any new information as it mostly is only a small variation from what is addressed by existing concepts, or it only gives different subtotals. This might decrease the comparability of disclosures since different subtotals address different issues. Two other important extensions arise from aggregation or disaggregation. Aggregation arises if more elements in the taxonomy are aggregated into one element within the filers’ report. If one element is split into different elements, disaggregation is in place. Comparability is decreased between the daughters, but parent-level comparability is maintained (Bartley, Chen, & Taylor, 2011).
A note should be made to the influence extensions have on the comparability of information. Although extensions do actually make it more difficult to compare information cross-firm or cross-industry, dependent on the kind of extensions, this effect is expected to be diminished as filers become more experienced with filing in XBRL and taxonomies are more developed (Vasarhelyi, Chan, & Krahel, 2012).
The power of XBRL over formats such as HTML is stated to be the existence of standardized tags, contained in taxonomies (Debreceny & Gray, 2001). Taxonomies are developed for different reporting purposes such as external reporting and tax return, so more than one taxonomy exists. Mostly used are the U.S. GAAP and the IFRS taxonomy since these are based upon widespread accounting standards. It is important to know if what is contained with the taxonomies is also what firms try to disclose, the fit between the taxonomy and firms’ reporting practices.
The fit referred to in the previous paragraph is researched by Bovee et al. (2002) for the XBRL-taxonomy from the year 2000 based upon U.S. GAAP. Only financial statement line items were used in the sample, these were manually reviewed on whether they existed within the given taxonomy. ‘Not-existing’ line items were qualified as special attention items, SAIs. These were then divided into three categories: potential new tag items, grouped items and firm-specific items. New tag items may be necessary to be included in the taxonomy, this creates taxonomy migration which causes taxonomies to grow. Grouped items refer to the aggregation extensions as described in the previous subsection and firm-specific items refer to the filer-specific disclosures from that same subsection.
Descriptive statistics from the research (Bovee, Ettredge, Srivastava, & Vasarhelyi, 2002) gives reason for some significant conclusions. The existence of SAIs suggests that improvement can be made on the taxonomy, taxonomy migration causes taxonomies to grow by adopting new concepts not yet addressed by the taxonomy. Most SAIs, or extensions, are noticed within the statement of cash flows, which indicates that this statement has the least fit with the 2000 taxonomy. Although this statement has the least fit, the type of extensions between the statements differ. For example, most grouped items are found within the balance sheet which indicates that these are most aggregated compared to the taxonomy. Extensions are also evaluated by industry, results confirm that some industries’ reporting practices have a better fit with the taxonomy than do others. That result indicates the need for industry-specific extensions that may decrease cross-firm comparability but increase cross-industry comparability. Although extensions to the taxonomy might be necessary, the overall fit is good since only 15% of the line items could not be tagged with concepts from the given taxonomy.
The taxonomy frequently used in Europe is the IFRS-GP Taxonomy based upon the IFRS accounting standards (Bons??n, Cortijo, & Escobar, 2009). The same procedures as with the previously discussed research were used, the sample used was obtained May 2006. Results indicate again that SAIs exist, and thus improvement of the taxonomy is possible. Most extensions were found with the statement of changes in equity, thus this has the least fit. This study also acknowledges the need for industry-specific extensions, especially for the banking and insurance sector which is already contained within the September 15, 2004 updated version but obviously still needs to be extended. It is to be noted that the study also states that many of the deficiencies detected are resolved in the newer versions of the taxonomy.
The existence of several taxonomies may cause comparability to decrease since these rest on different bases (Bons??n, Cortijo, & Escobar, 2009). They are based upon standards such as U.S. GAAP and IFRS that differ per country, financial statements are for that reason difficult to compare. No mechanism yet exists to compare financial information cross-taxonomies although this is necessary for comparing firms’ performance. Wenger et al. (2013) tried to address this problem with an ontological approach. Differences existing between taxonomies should be mapped, relationships about how these differences relate to each other. The growth and change of taxonomies require constant reviewing and mapping of the taxonomies. These concepts and relationships are gathered in the ontology, which can be used to ‘translate’ financial reports from one taxonomy to another.
The mapping of how concepts included in different taxonomies are related to each other should increase the comparability since this creates to possibility of presenting all statements in the same taxonomy. Comparability may not be enhanced completely since cultural attitudes may make it harder to compare ratios although they reflect the same numbers: some countries may focus on debt financing whereas in other countries equity is preferred for example.
Hodge, Kennedy and Maines (2004) did a research on how the transparency of information is being influenced by the use of search-facilitating technology. An example of a search-facilitating technology is XBRL, the tags assigned to every line item of the financial report can be used by such a technology to retrieve the information within the report. It can also be used to retrieve related information, such as information in disclosures related to information in the financial statements itself. Related information can be used to direct users’ attention as well as to clarify managers’ financial reporting choices by simultaneously presenting it. The degree to which these benefits do actually improve with the use of such a technology are discussed in this article.
Accounting policies vary between corporations, this makes it harder to compare since the same information may be disclosed in another way. The research (Hodge, Kennedy, & Maines, 2004) notes that previous research points out that financial statement users’ reactions towards recognized information, thus in the financial statements itself, are stronger than towards disclosed information, disclosures in the notes to the statements. If the research on search-facilitating technology concludes that no significant difference exists between the value given by participants to respectively disclosed and recognized information, this technology thus may actually be helpful in comparing information. Cross-firm comparability is then increased by an increase in the transparency firms’ disclosure policies. Higher transparency means that firms benefit less from different disclosures since these are now highlighted, different policies can be compared to each other since related information can be presented simultaneously. Conclusions from the research do point out that search-facilitating technology may help users to evaluate and combine the information from disclosures with the financial statement information. Cross-firm comparability is therefor expected to be increased by the use of a technology such as XBRL.
Comparability of the information disclosed through XBRL is influenced in numerous ways as is discussed in this subsection. First, the different kind of extensions were discussed as well as the way they influenced cross-firm and cross-industry comparability. Second, U.S. GAAP and IFRS taxonomies were evaluated and the need for a mechanism to integrate those was discussed, this focussed upon cross-industry but moreover cross-taxonomy comparability. Finally, the influence intelligent-software agents have upon the integration of disclosure and statement information is discussed since these may increase comparability between different accounting practices.
3.2 Information Asymmetry
Information asymmetry is the condition in which at least some relevant information is known to some but not all parties involved. This factor is also discussed in the theoretical framework as the cause of the agency problem and the need for auditing. Information asymmetry causes markets to become inefficient, since all the market participants do not have access to the information they need for decision making. Information is clearly being affected by XBRL since several articles are on this topic: Cong (2014), Ashbaugh (1999) and Yoon (2011) are some of the authors that researched this factor. These articles do not always agree on the way information asymmetry, and thus information quality, is being influenced by XBRL. This subsection therefore contains different views on how information asymmetry is being influenced.
Decision information should be perceived reliable by users to be helpful in decision making. Reliability as well as accuracy can be ‘assured’ by ways of third-party assurance, this may enhance investor trust (Bartley, Chen, & Taylor, 2011). Reliability may thus influence the perceived quality through auditability of the information disclosed with financial reporting. The need for audits arises, as stated in previous sections, from the separation of ownership and control which causes information asymmetry between parties. Reliability is discussed in this subsection as the auditability of the information.
3.4 Other Factors Influencing the Information Set
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