The purpose of this paper is to investigate the phenomenon of Big Data and corporate reporting, and to determine the impact of Big Data and the current Big Data state of mind with regard to corporate reporting, what accountant and non-accountant participants’ perceptions are of the phenomenon, what the accountants’ role is and will be in this regard, and what opportunities and risks are associated with Big Data and corporate reporting. Furthermore, this study seeks to identify the inherent technological paradoxes of Big Data and corporate reporting.
The current study is qualitative in nature and assumes an interpretive stance, investigating participants’ perceptions of the phenomenon of Big Data and corporate reporting. To this end, interview data from 25 participants, video and text material, were analysed to enhance and triangulate findings. A four-fold sampling strategy was employed to ensure that any collected data would contribute to the findings. Data were analysed on the basis of open and selective coding stages. Data collection and analysis took place in two stages, in 2014 and in 2016.
Three topics, or categories, emerged from the data analysis, which have sufficient explanatory power to illustrate the phenomenon of Big Data and corporate reporting, namely the Big Data state of mind and corporate reporting, accountants’ role and future related to Big Data, and perceived opportunities and risks of Big Data. Features of a new approach to corporate reporting were identified and discussed. Furthermore, four paradoxes emerged to express inherent opposing positions of Big Data and corporate reporting, namely empowerment vs enslavement, fulfilling vs creating needs, reliability vs timeliness and simplicity vs complexity.
The original contribution of the study lies in the empirical investigation of the phenomenon of Big Data and corporate reporting as one of the most recent and praised developments in the accounting context. The dual communication flows of corporate reporting with Big Data is an important element of the findings, which can enhance the prospective financial statements significantly. Finally, technological paradoxes of Big Data and corporate reporting are discussed for the first time, two of which are based on the literature and the remaining two are inherent in the phenomenon of Big Data and corporate reporting.
The authors would like to thank the special issue editors and two anonymous referees for their helpful feedback and constructive criticism, which have contributed greatly to the development of this paper.
This paper forms part of the Accounting, Accountability, Social Media and Big Data: Revolution or Hype? Special issue.
Al-Htaybat, K. and von Alberti-Alhtaybat, L. (2017), "Big Data and corporate reporting: impacts and paradoxes", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 850-873. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-07-2015-2139
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