An empirical study of the impact of information technology on corporate financial reporting : a contingency perspective
This thesis investigates whether information technology [IT] ameliorates or exacerbates the information asymmetry between management and external users of financial information, and ascertains whether and under what circumstances IT has an impact on external reporting. These two issues are investigated under the proposed contingency perspective. The main aims of this thesis are to provide a policy-making basis for regulators of corporate financial reporting [CFR], and to formulate a theoretical framework which can be used for research in this area. A survey design has been adopted. Mail questionnaires have been used to collect data from a sample of UK public companies, supplemented by personal interviews. Statistical procedures have been applied to analyse the data. The results demonstrate that, while contributing to some improvements in CFR, the use of IT has played a role in the aggravation of the information asymmetry between management and external users, and in this sense it has counteracted the social benefits of financial reporting. A major implication of this is that the use of IT in accounting requires monitoring and control at a societal level. However, UK regulators have done little in this respect and thus this thesis proposes several courses of action for them. Moreover, although IT plays a role in improving external reporting, the impact of IT varies depending on factors such as company size and leverage. These results are useful for regulators since they enhance the understanding of and, the ability to predict, the impact of IT. This thesis is the first study which has empirically evaluated the influence of IT on external reporting and has put the impact of IT into the context of information asymmetry. Moreover, although it should be subject to further empirical test, the proposed contingency framework proves general, flexible, analytical and operational, and appears to be widely applicable.