XBRL, Excel or PDF? The Effects of Technology Choice on the Analysis of Financial Information
Diane Joyce Janvrin
Iowa State University - Department of Accounting and Finance
Robert E. Pinsker
Florida Atlantic University
January 14, 2011
CAAA Annual Conference 2011
Proponents argue that financial statements created using eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) will provide more transparent data for users performing financial statement analysis. The more transparent data will simplify the analysis task and allow users to focus quicker on the financial information they perceive as important. However, U.S. adoption of XBRL-enabled technology has been slow and several standard setters and academics question whether investors will choose to use the XBRL-formatted information the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is now requiring companies to provide. Further, the extant choice literature documents several instances where technology created for a specific purpose was not chosen by the intended users. Therefore, our study examines (1) whether users of financial information (investors) will choose XBRL-enabled technology for financial statement analysis rather than more familiar technologies (i.e., portable document files (PDF) and spreadsheets (Excel)) and (2) why they choose the specific technology.
We train participants using all three technologies and then ask them to choose one to complete an investment decision task. We found 58 percent of participants chose to use XBRLenabled technology, while 42 percent chose Excel. Our analysis suggests that nonprofessional investors’ chose XBRL-enabled technology because they perceive that it reduces the time required to complete the task (increases task efficiency). Conversely, nonprofessional investors who chose Excel made their choice based on greater experience with Excel relative to XBRLenabled technology and PDF. Finally, two factors that we hypothesized may explain technology choice, perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use, were not statistically significant. Our findings have implications for technology choice theory development, regulators mandating or considering mandating XBRL-based reporting, and XBRL-enabled technology adoption.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 70
Keywords: XBRL adoption, technology choice
JEL Classification: M41working papers series
Date posted: January 14, 2011
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