Digital business reporting standards: mapping the battle in France

Véronique Guilloux, Joanne Locke, Alan Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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; EDIFACT (incumbent) and XBRL (challenger). The research explores whether an incumbent may be displaced in a setting in which the contention is unresolved.
We apply Latour’s (1992) translation map to trace the enrolments 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-277
Number of pages21
JournalEuropean Journal of Information Systems
Issue number3
Early online date24 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • business data standards
  • XBRL
  • ebXML
  • actor network theory
  • France


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