Digital business reporting standards: mapping the battle in France

Abstract

Government agencies use information technology extensively to collect business data for regulatory purposes. Data communication standards form part of the infrastructure with which businesses must conform to survive. We examine the development of, and emerging competition between, two open business reporting data standards adopted by government bodies in France; Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce and Transport (EDIFACT) (incumbent) and eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) (challenger). The research explores whether an incumbent may be displaced in a setting in which the contest is unresolved. Latour's translation map is applied to trace the enrollments and detours in the battle. We find that regulators play an important role as allies in the development of the standards. The antecedent networks in which the standards are located embed strong beliefs that become barriers to collaboration and fuel the battle. One of the key differentiating attitudes is whether speed is more important than legitimacy. The failure of collaboration encourages competition. The newness of XBRL's technology just as regulators need to respond to an economic crisis and its adoption by French regulators not using EDIFACT create an opportunity for the challenger to make significant network gains over the longer term. ANT also highlights the importance of the preservation of key components of EDIFACT in ebXML.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Figure 1
Figure 2
Figure 3
Figure 4
Figure 5

References

  1. Akrich M and Latour B (1992) A summary of a convenient vocabulary for the semiotics of human and nonhuman assemblies. In Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change (Bijker WE and Law J, Eds), pp 259–264, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Archaeon (2004) European trusteeship forum winners. [WWW document] http://avallone.archaeon.co.uk/?p=news201004.uk (accessed January 2008).

  3. Arthur B (1989) Competing technologies, increasing returns, and lock-in by historical events. The Economic Journal 99 (394), 116–131.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Backhouse J, Hsu CW and Silva L (2006) Circuits of power in creating de jure standards: shaping an international information systems security standard. MIS Quarterly 30 (Supplement), 413–438.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Blind K and Gauch S (2008) Trends in ICT standards: the relationship between European standardisation bodies and standards consortia. Telecommunications Policy 32 (7), 503–513.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Bloomfield BP and Vurdubakis T (1997) Visions of organization and organizations of vision: The representational practices of information systems development. Accounting, Organizations and Society 22 (7), 639–668.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Boh WF, Soh C and Yeoh S (2007) Standards development and diffusion: a case study of RosettaNet. Communications of the ACM 50 (12), 57–62.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bolgiano M (2009) Using standards for transparency. XBRL US Testimony to the Domestic Policy Subcommittee: Oversight and Government Reform Committee. [WWW document] http://xbrl.us/documents/XBRL_US_Testimony.pdf (accessed April 2009).

  9. Bonaccorsi A and Rossi C (2003) Why open source software can succeed. Research Policy 32 (7), 1243–1258.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Borras J (2004) International technical standards for e-government. Electronic journal of e-government 2 (2), 75–80.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Callon M (1986) Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St Brieuc Bay. In Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge? (Law J, Ed.), pp 196–233, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Camp J and Vincent C (2004) Setting standards: looking to the internet for models of governance. Ethics and Information Technology 6 (3), 161–173.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Chae B and Poole MS (2005) The surface of emergence in systems development: agency, institutions, and large-scale information systems. European Journal of Information Systems 14 (1), 19–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Chang C and Jarvenpaa S (2005) Pace of information systems standards development and implementation: the case of XBRL. Electronic Markets 15 (4), 365–377.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Chiapello E (2005) Les normes comptables comme institution du capitalisme. Une analyse du passage aux normes IFRS en Europe à partir de 2005. Sociologie du travail 47 (3), 362–382.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Choi B, Raghu TS and Vince A (2004) Addressing a standards creation process: a focus on ebXML. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 61 (5), 627–648.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Choi B, Raghu TS, Vinze A and Dooley KJ (2009) Process model for e-business standards development: a case of ebXML standards. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management 56 (3), 448–467.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Ciborra CU, Braa K, Cordella A, Dahlbom B, Failla A, Hanseth O, Hepsø V, Ljungberg J, Monteiro E and Simon KA (2001) From Control to Drift: The Dynamics of Corporate Information Infrastructures. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Coffin Z (2000) XBRL liaison report. [WWW document] http://www.juergendaum.com/news/XBRL-LiaisonReport-International-20001016.doc (accessed March 2005).

  20. Colasse B and Standish P (1998) State versus market: contending interests in the struggle to control French accounting standardisation. Journal of Management and Governance 2 (2), 107–147.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Colgren TD (2008) XBRL international appoints Gilles Maguet as secretary general of XBRL Europe. Business Wire. [WWW document] http://www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS130780+27-May-2008+BW20080527 (accessed June 2009).

  22. Cox C (2008) Speech by SEC Chairman Christopher Cox: address to the 17th XBRL International Conference. [WWW document] http://www.sec.gov/news/speech/2008/spch050708cc-2.htm (accessed June 2008).

  23. Damsgaard J and Truex D (2000) Binary trading relations and the limits of EDI standards: the Procrustean bed of standards. European Journal of Information Systems 9 (3), 173–188.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. David PA (1985) Clio and the economics of QWERTY. American Economic Review 75 (2), 332–337.

    Google Scholar 

  25. David PA and Greenstein S (1990) The economics of compatibility standards: an introduction to recent research. The Economics of Innovations and New Technology 1 (1/2), 3–41.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Dechow N and Mouritsen J (2005) Enterprise resource planning systems, management control and the quest for integration. Accounting, Organizations and Society 30 (7–8), 691–733.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. De Vries HJ (1999) Standardization: A Business Approach to the Role of National Standardization Organizations. Kluwer, Boston.

    Google Scholar 

  28. De Vries H, De Vries HJ and Oshri I (2008) Standards Battles in Open Source Software: The Case of Firefox. Palgrave and Macmillan, NY.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Egyedi TM and Koppenhol A (2010) The standards war between ODF and OOXML: or, does competition between overlapping ISO standards lead to innovation? International Journal of IT Standards and Standardization Research 8 (1), 49–62.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. European Commission (2009) The EU single market. [WWW document] http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/accounting/legal_framework/index_en.htm (accessed August 2010).

  31. European Parliament (2009) Text adopted: community programme for financial services financial reporting and auditing P6_TA-PROV(2009)0368. [WWW document] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?pubRef=-//EP//TEXT+TA+P6-TA-2009-0368+0+DOC+XML+V0//EN&language=EN#BKMD-37 (accessed May 2010).

  32. Financial Stability Board (2009) Financial stability board reports on improving financial regulation. [WWW document] http://www.financialstabilityboard.org (accessed May 2010).

  33. Focus PCG (2009) Comprendre le plan comptable Français et son évolution. [WWW document] http://www.focuspcg.com/ (accessed September 2010).

  34. FouquiÈres DE L-A and STOL H (1999) TELER: lowering the burden entailed by enterprises’ data collection. [WWW document] http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/eurostat/re-search/dosis/teler/ (accessed November 2009).

  35. Garud R, Jain S and Kumaraswamy A (2002) Institutional entrepreneurship in the sponsorship of common technological standards: the case of Sun Microsystems and Java. Academy of Management Journal 45 (1), 196–214.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Garud R and Kumaraswamy A (1993) Changing competitive dynamics in network industries: an exploration of Sun Microsystems’ open systems strategy. Strategic Management Journal 14 (5), 351–369.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Gendron Y and Barrett M (2004) Professionalization in action: accountants’ attempt at building a network of support for the WebTrust seal of assurance. Contemporary Accounting Research 21 (3), 563–602.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Graham I, Spinardi G, Williams R and Webster J (1995) The dynamics of EDI standards development. Technology Analysis & Strategic Management 7 (1), 3–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Grötnes E (2008) The work of an international standardization consortia: paths towards its current structure. International Journal of IT Standards and Standardization Research 7 (1), 48–65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Guilloux V (2010) Comment le «texte» peut mettre en lumière les infrastructures SIO en XML et en EDI? Un exemple dans le secteur financier. Management & Avenir 9 (n°39), 250–264.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Hamscher W (2002) XBRL and its adjacent XML languages: An overview. [WWW document] http://www.standardadvantage.com/Docs/XBRL-Adjacent-Specs-2002-05-27.pdf (accessed August 2005).

  42. Hanseth O (2001) The economics of standards. In From Control to Drift: The Dynamics of Corporate Information Infrastructures (Ciborra CU, Braa K, Cordella A, Dahlbom B, Failla A, Hanseth O, Hepsø V, Ljungberg J, Monteiro E and Simon KA, Eds), pp 56–70, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Hanseth O, Aanestad M and Berg M (2004) Guest editors’ introduction: actor-network theory and information systems. What's so special? Information Technology and People 17 (2), 116–123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Hanseth O, Jacucci E, Grisot M and Aanestad M (2006) Reflexive standardization. Side-effects and complexity in standard-making. MIS Quarterly 30 (Special Issue), 563–581.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Hanseth O and Monteiro E (1997) Inscribing behaviour in information infrastructure standards. Accounting, Management and Information Technologies 7 (4), 183–211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Hawser A (2004) Turf war rages over electronic payments. Global Finance. [WWW document] http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3715/is_200410/ai_n9417474 (accessed August 2008).

  47. Heeks R and Stanforth C (2007) Understanding e-government project trajectories from an actor-network perspective. European Journal of Information Systems 16 (2), 165–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. Hemetsberger A and Reinhardt C (2009) Collective development in open-source communities: an activity theoretical perspective on successful online collaboration. Organization Studies 30 (9), 987–1008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Hutton W (2010) Now we know the truth. The financial meltdown wasn’t a mistake – it was a con. The Observer. Sunday, 18 April, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/18/goldman-sachs-regulators-civil-charges (accessed May 2011).

  50. Jakobs K (2000) Information Technology Standards and Standardization: A Global Perspective. Idea Group Publishing, London.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Katz M and Shapiro C (1985) Network externalities, competition, and compatibility. American Economic Review 75 (3), 424–440.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Keogh J and Davidson K (2005) XML Demystified. McGraw-Hill, NY.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Kernan K (2008) XBRL around the world. Journal of Accountancy 206 (4), 62–66.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Kernan K (2009) The story of our new language: personalities, cultures, and politics combine to create a common, global language for business. [WWW document] http://www.aicpa.org/Professional+Resources/Accounting+and+Auditing/BRAAS/downloads/XBRL_09_web_final.pdf (accessed June 2010).

  55. La Documentation Française (2009) La modernisation de l’Etat. [WWW document] http://www.ladocumentationfrancaise.fr/dossiers/modernisation-etat/index.shtml (accessed May 2010).

  56. Latour B (1987) Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Latour B (1991) Technology is society made durable. In A Sociology of Monsters. Essays on Power, Technology and Domination (Law J, Ed.), pp 103–131, Routledge, London.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Latour B (1992) Where are the missing masses? The sociology of a few mundane artifacts. In Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change (Bijker WE and Law J, Eds), pp 225–258, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Latour B (1994) On technical mediation – philosophy, sociology, genealogy. Common Knowledge 3 (2), 29–64.

    Google Scholar 

  60. Latour B (1996) Aramis: Or the Love of Technology. Harvester Wheatsheaf, Brighton.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Latour B (1999) On recalling ANT. In Actor Network Theory and After (Law J and Hassard J, Eds), pp 15–25, Blackwell, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Latour B (2005a) From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik: how to make things public. An introduction. In Making Things Public. Atmospheres of Democracy (Latour B and Weibel P, Eds), pp 1–31, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Latour B (2005b) Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Latour B and Woolgar S (1986) Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Law J (1992) Notes on the theory of the actor-network: ordering, strategy, and heterogeneity. Systems Practice 5 (4), 379–393.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Law J (2000) Objects, spaces, others. Society and Space 18 (3), 127–132.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Law J (2002) Objects and spaces. Theory, Culture and Society 19 (5/6), 91–105.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Law J and Callon M (1992) The life and death of an aircraft: a network analysis of technological change. In Shaping Technology/Building Society: Studies in Sociotechnical Change (Bijker WE and Law J, Eds), pp 21–52, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Lee H and Oh S (2006) A standards war waged by a developing country: understanding international standard setting from the actor-network perspective. Journal of Strategic Information Systems 15 (3), 177–195.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Lépicier S (2008) Transparency and regulated information. 17th XBRL International Conference. Evolution in Financial Reporting – XBRL in Action. Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

  71. Locke J and Lowe A (2007) XBRL: an (open) source of enlightenment or disillusion? European Accounting Review 16 (3), 585–623.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Lyytinen K, Keil T and Fomin V (2008) A framework to build process theories of anticipatory information and communication standardizing. International Journal of IT Standards and Standardization Research 6 (1), 1–38.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Mcgrath K (2002) The golden circle: a way of arguing and acting about technology in the London ambulance service. European Journal of Information Systems 11 (4), 251–266.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Miller P (1997) The multiplying machine. Accounting Organizations and Society 22 (3–4), 355–364.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Moyer P (2008) XBRL: a magic pill? California CPA Magazine. [WWW document] http://www.calcpa.org/Content/25346.aspx (accessed December 2008).

  76. Nickerson JV and Zur Muehlen M (2006) The ecology of standards processes: insights from internet standard making. MIS Quarterly 30 (Supplement), 467–488.

    Google Scholar 

  77. Nobes CW and Parker RH (2006) Comparative International Accounting. Pearson Education, Harlow, UK.

    Google Scholar 

  78. Oksala S, Rutkowski A, Spring M and O′Donnell J (1996) The structure of IT standardization. StandardView 4 (1), 9–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Oshri I, De Vries HJ and De Vries H (2010) The rise of Firefox in the web browser industry: the role of open source in setting standards. Business History 52 (5), 834–856.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Pfeiffer H (1992) The Diffusion of EDI. Physica, Heidelberg.

    Google Scholar 

  81. Potter JA and Cohen S (2010) Information sharing strategies in a standards contest: the case of 2G wireless communication. Journal of High Technology Management Research 21 (2), 108–121.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  82. Quattrone P and Hopper T (2005) A ‘time-space odyssey’: management control systems in two multinational organisations. Accounting, Organizations and Society 30 (7–8), 735–764.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  83. Rada R (2000) Consensus versus speed. In Information Technology Standards and Standardization: A Global Perspective (Jacobs K, Ed.), pp 19–34, Idea Group Publishing, London.

    Google Scholar 

  84. Ramirez C (2008) Exporting professional models: the expansion of the multinational audit firm and the transformation of the French accountancy profession since 1970. Critical Perspectives on Accounting Conference. New York.

  85. Rosenbloom R and Cusumano M (1987) Technological pioneering and competitive advantage: the birth of the VCR industry. California Management Review 29 (4), 51–76.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  86. Roth D (2009) Road map for financial recovery: radical transparency now! Wired. [WWW document] http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/17-03/wp_reboot?currentPage=all (accessed December 2009).

  87. Scheier RL (2003) XML gets organized. Computerworld 37 (43), 30–31.

    Google Scholar 

  88. Schilling MA (1998) Technological lockout: an integrative model of the economic and strategic factors driving technological success and failure. Academy of Management Review 23 (2), 267–284.

    Google Scholar 

  89. Schmerken I (2007) Credit crisis in sub-prime mortgages affects hedge funds trading in other asset classes. Advanced Trading. [WWW document] http://www.advancedtrading.com/issues/200710/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=201805585 (accessed June 2009).

  90. SEC (2009) Interactive data to improve financial reporting: final rule. [WWW document] http://www.sec.gov/rules/final/2009/33-9002.pdf (accessed February 2009).

  91. Shapiro C and Varian HR (1999a) The art of standard wars. California Management Review 41 (2), 8–32.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  92. Shapiro C and Varian HR (1999b) Information Rules: A Strategic Guide to the Network Economy. Harvard Business School Press, Boston, MA.

    Google Scholar 

  93. Sliwa C (2000) Bloated file size an issue for XML. Computerworld, 8 May.

  94. Standard Business Reporting (2009) An Australian government initiative: standard business reporting. [WWW document] http://www.sbr.gov.au (accessed February 2010).

  95. Standish P (1990) Origins of the plan comptable général: a study in cultural intrusion and reaction. Accounting and Business Research 20 (80), 337–351.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  96. Stango V (2004) The economics of standards wars. Review of Network Economics 3 (1), 1–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  97. Star SL (1996) Working together: Symbolic interactionism, activity theory, and information systems. In Cognition and Communication at Work (Engeström Y and Middleton D, Eds) pp 296–318, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

  98. Suarez FF (2004) Battles for technological dominance: an integrative framework. Research Policy 33 (2), 271–286.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  99. Suarez FF (2005) Network effects revisited: the role of strong ties in technology selection. Academy of Management Journal 48 (4), 710–720.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  100. TBG12 (2005) UN/CEFACT business requirements specification version 1. [WWW document] http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=CEFACT%2FForum%2F2005%2FTBG%2FBS002+&rls=com.microsoft:en-gb:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GGLD_en&redir_esc=&ei=0_c8T6y9ONTp8QPTlNmnCA (accessed September 2010).

  101. Truex D, Holmström J and Keil M (2006) Theorizing in information systems research: a reflexive analysis of the adaptation of theory in information systems research. Journal of the Association for Information Systems 7 (1), Article 33 [WWW document] http://aisel.aisnet.org/jais/vol7/iss1/33.

  102. Tuomi I (2001) Internet, innovation, and open source: actors in the network. First Monday 6 (1), [WWW document] http://www.firstmonday.org/issuess/issuess6_1/tuomi/index.html.

  103. Turowski K (2000) Establishing standards for business components. In Information Technology Standards and Standardization: A Global Perspective (Jakobs K, Ed.), pp 131–151, Idea Group Publishing, Hershey, PA.

    Google Scholar 

  104. UNCEFACT (1998) Centre for the facilitation of procedures and practices for administration. Commerce and Transport Meeting of Experts on Data Elements and Automatic Data Interchange (GE.1) Fifty-seventh session.

  105. UN/CEFACT FORUM TBG12 (2001) Accounting and auditing domains: TBG12 terms of reference. [WWW document] http://www.uncefactforum.org/TBG/TBG12/TBG12%20Documents/TBG12_Terms_Of_Reference_Rev.7.doc (accessed December 2008).

  106. UN/EDIFACT STEERING GROUP (1997) Report from the UN/EDIFACT Steering Group (ESG) Meeting Concord.

  107. UN/EDIFACT WORKING GROUP (2001) Draft report of the UN/EDIFACT working group (EWG) to the UN/CEFACT plenary of March 2001. [WWW document] http://www.unece.org/cefact/cf_plenary/plenary01/docs/01cf13.pdf (accessed December 2009).

  108. Van Oosterhout M, Waarts E and Van Hillegersberg J (2006) Change factors requiring agility and implications for IT. European Journal of Information Systems 15 (2), 132–145.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  109. Vina G (2010) U.K. scraps FSA, reversing system set up by brown (update2). Businessweek Online, 17 June. [WWW document] http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-06-17/u-k-scraps-fsa-reversing-system-set-up-by-brown-update2-.html (accessed August 2010).

  110. Weitzel T, Beimborn D and König W (2006) A unified economic model of standard diffusion: the impact of standardization cost, network effects, and network topology. MIS Quarterly 30 (Supplement), 489–514.

    Google Scholar 

  111. Windrum P (2004) Leveraging technological externalities in complex technologies: microsoft's exploitation of standards in the browser wars. Research Policy 33 (3), 385–394.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  112. XBRL FRANCE (2005) Communiqué de presse: reporting et publication d’informations financières. [WWW document] http://www.xbrl.org/fr/Presse/Communique_cr%C3%A9ation_XBRL_11_05_05.pdf (accessed December 2010).

  113. XBRL INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS BOARD (2010) XBRL: towards a diverse ecosystem. Discussion paper. [WWW document] http://www.xbrl.org/2010TechDiscussion/2010TechDiscussion.pdf (accessed December 2010).

  114. Zhu K, Kraemer KL, Gurbaxani V and Xin XUS (2006) Migration to open-standard interorganizational systems: network effects, switching costs, and path dependency. MIS Quarterly 30 (Supplement), 515–539.

    Google Scholar 

  115. Zuckerman A (1999) Standards battles heat up between United States and European Union. Quality Progress 32 (1), 39–42.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank all the interview participants who gave their time to contribute to this research. The paper has benefited from the comments of participants at the 2008 ICIS Conference in Paris, the 2009 EGOS Colloquium, Barcelona and several local presentations. We would also especially like to thank Professor Peter Standish and this journal's three anonymous reviewers.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joanne Locke.

Appendix

Appendix

Appendix – data collection

Table A1

Table A1 Interviews

Table A2

Table A2 Conference and meeting observation

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Guilloux, V., Locke, J. & Lowe, A. Digital business reporting standards: mapping the battle in France. Eur J Inf Syst 22, 257–277 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1057/ejis.2012.5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Business Data standards
  • EDIFACT
  • XBRL
  • ebXML
  • Actor Network Theory
  • France