The adoption of XBRL in South Africa: An empirical study

Steenkamp L.P. ; Nel G.F. (2012)


Purpose - eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is an important new information and communication technology for the electronic communication of business and financial data. International research shows unacceptably low levels of awareness and adoption of XBRL. This paper aims to investigate the level of awareness of XBRL in South Africa among chartered accountants. Furthermore, it aims to consider the factors influencing adoption of XBRL and the impact of the economic circumstances on the decision to adopt XBRL. Design/methodology/approach - The research was conducted with data collected through a structured, self-administered web-based survey sent to 11,458 chartered accountants. Chartered accountants will be primarily responsible for the implementation of XBRL at organisations. Findings - The findings are largely in line with international studies, indicating a low level of awareness and slow adoption of the new technology. The major reasons cited for not adopting XBRL are that it is not yet mandatory in South Africa to do so and in the view of the respondents there is not any benefit in adopting XBRL. The results indicated that the economic circumstances did not have any effect on the decision to implement XBRL, be it either to implement or not to implement XBRL. Originality/value - It is concluded that the business case for XBRL, internationally and in South Africa, should be made stronger for awareness and adoption rates to improve. The adoption of XBRL is, by implication, important and relevant to everyone with an interest in information management. Copyright © 2012 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.

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