Computer and telecommunications technologies are commonly thought to provide solutions to the quantitative and qualitative demands on modern financial reporting. Extensible Business Reporting Language (‘XBRL’) is an emergent technology that is purported to ‘democratise’ financial reporting. This investigation of whether XBRL democratises financial reporting is undertaken from a constructivist perspective. An interpretive research framework is regarded as appropriate to the current maturity XBRL. XBRL-knowledgeable individuals are asked whether they agree with the assertion that 'XBRL democratises financial reporting'. In addition, their perceptions of each of 'XBRL', 'financial reporting' and 'democratisation' are elicited in order to assess whether they have a common interpretation of the assertion. Sixty-seven percent of survey respondents profess to agree with the assertion, 13% explicitly disagree and 20% are non-committal. However, interpretation and analysis of each of the concepts reveal statistically significant relationships between responses to the assertion and interpretations of its constituent concepts. It is concluded that respondents are not agreeing and disagreeing about the same phenomena. This thesis illustrates that the rhetoric of technological determinism does not yet describe the reality of the relationship between financial reporting and XBRL. However, as XBRL matures, the approach adopted in this thesis may be re-applied to monitor perceptions of XBRL over time
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