Sites of translation in digital reporting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • The University of Adelaide
  • Open University


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyse the process by which “analogue” corporate reports produced under a “paper paradigm” are translated into a machine language as required by digital reporting. The paper uses Austin and Searle’s linguistic speech act theory to examine how digitally translating reporting information into atomised data affects the infrastructure and practice of accounting.

Design/methodology/approach: Extensive interview and observation evidence focussed on the IFRS Foundation’s digital reporting project is analysed. An interpretive approach is informed by the concepts of L compatibility, illocution and perlocutionary acts which are drawn from speech act theory.

Findings: Two key sites of translation are identified. The first site concerns the translation of accounting standards, principles and practices into taxonomies for digital tagging. Controversies arise over the definition of accounting concepts in a site populated by accounting and IT-orientated experts. The second site of translation is in the routine production and dissemination of digital reports which impacts the L compatibility between preparers and users.

Originality/value: The paper highlights a previously unexplored field of translation in accounting and contributes a unique perspective that demonstrates that machine translation is no longer marginalised but is the “primary” text with effects on the infrastructure and practice of accounting. It extends speech act theory by applying it to the digital domain and in the context of translation between languages.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2006-2030
Number of pages25
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sep 2018


  • translation, corporate reporting, digital recording, L compatability, machine language, taxonomies