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Progression in Corporate Sustainability Reporting: XBRL Taxonomy for Sustainability Reports

Progression in Corporate Sustainability Reporting: XBRL Taxonomy for Sustainability Reports
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Author(s): Ralf Isenmann (Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISIR), Germany)
Copyright: 2010
Pages: 29
Source title: Corporate Environmental Management Information Systems: Advancements and Trends
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Frank Teuteberg (University of Osnabrueck, Germany) and Jorge Marx Gomez (University of Oldenburg, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-981-1.ch018


View Progression in Corporate Sustainability Reporting: XBRL Taxonomy for Sustainability Reports on the publisher's website for pricing and purchasing information.


In corporate reporting, greater internet use, reports available on the world wide web (WWW) and movements towards a more balanced reporting approach have become the most noticeable trends since the inception of sustainability reporting in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. While early sustainability reports merely have been available on print media, today most are accessible on the WWW as HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) files. Such a layout oriented data format, however, does not seem to be sufficient any longer, especially in terms of content-syndication, harmonization, efficiencies, future ICT requirements, stakeholders’ reporting expectations, and data exchange, be it inside and outside the companies. Hence, reference architecture for sustainability reports built on XBRL (eXtensible Businesses Reporting Language) is proposed. This development is based on a research initiative embedded in the German Environmental Informatics community. The proposed document structure within the reference architecture particularly meets the requirements of the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) sustainability reporting guidelines (G3). While developing the document structure, an existing XBRL FRTA (Financial Reporting Taxonomies Architecture) - common for business financial reporting- was used. Such a unifying document structure is a key for advanced reporting systems, particularly for current ICT applications like (web) content management systems. Using the reference architecture offers an impressive array of benefits, e.g. it helps: to facilitate data exchange between reporters and report users, to improve a company’s information management, to support its reporting workflow, and to refine communication with its target groups in a meaningful way.

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