Recognition Versus Disclosure in Financial Statements: Does Search-Facilitating Technology Improve Transparency?
Posted: 10 Dec 2002
Date Written: November 14, 2002
Research suggests that investors and creditors react less strongly to information disclosed in footnotes than to information recognized on the face of financial statements, due at least in part to cognitive processing limitations. Emerging technologies (e.g., XBRL) that facilitate directed searches and simultaneous presentation of related financial statement and footnote information could potentially alleviate these limitations. We use an experiment to investigate whether the use of a search-facilitating technology affects how individuals react to recognition versus disclosure of stock option compensation. We find that the use of search-facilitating technology reduces differences in nonprofessional investors' financial performance judgments and investment decisions created by recognition versus disclosure. Additionally, we provide evidence that investors perceive greater differences in financial statement reliability between recognition and disclosure when they use search-facilitating technology. Overall, our findings suggest that search-facilitating technology improves the transparency of financial statement information and therefore may reduce incentives for firms to lobby for or to choose footnote disclosure to minimize the effects of negative information.
Keywords: recognition, disclosure, transparency, XBRL
JEL Classification: D82, M41, M45, O30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation