The Non-Adoption of XBRL by Professional and Government Organisations in New Zealand and its Implications for Stakeholders
Technology adoption plays a significant role in changing the way business communicates its financial information. One recently developed, technology-based language that can be used for financial reporting is eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL). Fisher (2008) believes that XBRL is the future of business reporting and various XBRL stakeholders internationally have been promoting the use of XBRL for almost two decades. However, the widespread adoption of XBRL for business reporting has not happened in New Zealand. Thus, the aim of this thesis is to investigate why business and professional organisations and the New Zealand Government have decided not to adopt XBRL for use in business reporting and the implications of that decision for XBRL stakeholders. The following research questions are addressed: a) What factors influenced the organisations’ decisions not to adopt XBRL for use in business reporting? b) What are the implications of the government decision regarding XBRL use in business reporting for XBRL stakeholders? To achieve the research aim and answer the research questions, this study developed a research framework that utilizes the Technological, Organisational, and Environmental (TOE) model of technology adoption developed by DePietro, Wiarda, and Fleischer (1990). A longitudinal multiple-case study approach that analyses interview and documentary data related to four key XBRL projects: LEAP+, Project First Step, e-GIF, and SBR, was employed. The results suggest the non-adoption decision by New Zealand’s private and public sector organisations was influenced by a combination of factors from the technological, organisational, and environmental contexts. Twelve predicted and fourteen unpredicted factors have a different degree of influence on the non-adoption decision. The factors of no relative advantage, not being perceived as a problem solver, a lack of human capability, no real championship, ineffective promotion, and communication, over-enthusiasm among experts, a lack of stakeholder involvement and a knowledge gap are the critical influencing factors and are common to all four XBRL projects. One-off factors in particular projects also had a significant influence. These were the copyright issue in the LEAP+ project; a change of laws, rules and regulations in Project First Step; a change of programme sponsor in the e-GIF project; and a change of government and the global financial crisis in the SBR programme. For the earlier projects, under the auspices of professional organisations, the technological and organisational contexts were the most important. However, the organisational and environmental contexts were most significant during projects under the auspices of government organisations. The non-adoption of XBRL had different short-term and long-term implications for the XBRL stakeholders. In the short-term, the government agencies are potentially unable to perform specific reporting-related data analysis and have limited their ability to share data and improve the efficiency of their processes. In long-term the government agencies have lost an opportunity to detect more errors in financial statements, to get data and information for policy-making purposes and to work in a connected manner. Accounting firms face a lack of XBRL skill development in the short and long-term and have missed the opportunity to free-up time for other purposes. Business organisations have lost the opportunity to improve access and connections with government agencies or other businesses, to reduce their compliance costs and potentially increase their long-term effectiveness.