Performativity of corporate reporting taxonomies

Nicholas Rowbottom, Joanne Locke, Indrit Troshani

Research output: Contribution to conference (unpublished)Paperpeer-review


The paper examines how corporate reporting taxonomies are performative in shaping, rather than simply representing corporate reporting practices. Taxonomies published by international accounting standard-setting organisations increasingly incorporate non-mandatory reporting practices. Codification in a taxonomy published by established standard-setters offers a means to validate non-mandatory reporting practices as pseudo-standards.
A qualitative analysis is undertaken of leading international accounting taxonomies: this includes a detailed documentary analysis of the taxonomy development process, observation of meetings and 32 interviews with those involved in writing taxonomies and applying them in large, listed, multinational firms.
The findings reveal how early users of international reporting taxonomies have changed their reporting practices to conform to the taxonomies, and how taxonomy design is increasingly influential in the standard-setting process – an influence perceived by most participants as positive. Furthermore, the analysis reveals how the aim of the taxonomy, in seeking to codify reporting practice, is perceived to clash with an emphasis on principles-based accounting standards. The taxonomy can drive more homogeneous reporting that offers cross-firm comparability rather than firm-specific communication. Therefore, an unresolved tension exists between codification in reporting taxonomies, and recent regulatory initiatives seeking to improve corporate communication through a focus on firm-specific, ‘non-boilerplate’ disclosures customised to meet the individual needs of different organisations. The findings are timely given leading capital market regulators are currently considering whether to mandate the usage of international corporate reporting taxonomies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2016
EventFinancial Reporting & Business Communication Conference - university of bristol, bristol, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Jun 20161 Jul 2016


ConferenceFinancial Reporting & Business Communication Conference
Abbreviated titleFRBC
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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