Translation in XBRL standardization

Indrit Troshani*, Andrew Lymer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Extensible business reporting language (XBRL) presents new opportunities for integrating the flow of financial information within communities of diverse organizations, thereby significantly enhancing the business information supply chain and addressing existing efficiency, accuracy and transparency problems. Vital to its success, XBRL standardization is proving to be challenging. This paper aims to investigate the phenomena that occur when heterogeneous actors interact in attempts to standardize XBRL. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing upon actor-network theory (ANT) the authors "follow the actors" participating in the standardization of XBRL in Australia. Supporting qualitative empirical evidence was collected via interviews and reviews of XBRL artifacts and relevant technical documentation. Findings: The authors confirm the critical role of focal actors in standardizing XBRL in networks of heterogeneous actors. In addition to clear and indispensable value propositions and solid political and financial support, focal actors must also undertake effective problematization which can determine the manner in which interessement unfolds in their network. It is found that separation or even lack of alignment between technical standardization efforts and social and strategic orientation can be detrimental to translation effectiveness and network stability, and therefore, adversely affect standardization outcomes. Originality/value: By presenting unsuccessful and potentially successful focal actors side by side, the paper contributes to the current body of knowledge by enhancing current understanding of their role in achieving effective translations in XBRL standardization networks. It also provides the most analytical review to date of actor interaction in XBRL standardization in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-164
Number of pages29
JournalInformation Technology and People
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2010


  • Computer applications
  • Extensible markup language
  • Financial information
  • Financial reporting
  • Standardization


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