The objective of this thesis is to investigate how the use of ontology technologies, as
utilised in computing, can contribute towards formulating a globally acceptable
Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting (global CFfFR).
The ideal being pursued in the financial reporting domain is a single set of high
quality, principle-based accounting standards which are globally recognised (Barth,
2013b; Bullen & Crook, 2005; Stein, 2015) guiding the provision of decision-useful
information to the users of financial reports (IASB, 2010a). The CFfFR, published by
the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) (IASB, 2010a), was developed
with the intention to provide guidance to users and preparers of financial reports and
standard setters regarding the provision of decision-useful financial information
(IASB, 2010a). Unfortunately, a clear, consistent and unambiguous world is not the
reality, which preparers of financial reports and investors encounter when they
compile and interpret financial reports governed by financial accounting standards
(Bhimani, 2008; Schipper, 2003; Tweedie, 2007; Wüstemann & Wüstemann, 2010).
This is a multi-disciplinary study, involving mainly the disciplines of accounting and
computing, but also touching on philosophy and the philosophy of science. The multimethod
qualitative study was performed adopting a research strategy utilised in the
Information Systems (IS) discipline known as Design Science Research (DSR)
(Vaishnavi & Kuechler, 2013).
Three research techniques were used during the performance of the DSR Cycles.
The research techniques were used to answer the three sub-research questions and
finally the main research question. A systematic review was performed during DSR
Cycle 1. DSR Cycles 2 and 3 involved interdisciplinary investigations, combining
knowledge from philosophy, philosophy of science and computing to enhance
knowledge in the main discipline i.e. accounting.
The main research question was answered during DSR Cycle 4, when a domain
ontology of the CFfFR was modelled. The CFfFR was modelled using the Ontology
Life Cycle (OLC) (Neuhaus, Vizedom, Baclawski, Bennett, Dean, et al., 2013)
developed in the knowledge representation (computing) discipline.
Part of the findings was that it is possible to build a formal domain ontology of the
CFfFR. The main contributions were made during the performance of DSR Cycle 4
(Chapter 7). A formal domain ontology of the CFfFR as artefact provided the most
basic classes and relationships to facilitate decision-useful information. During the
formalisation process, inconsistencies and unintended meanings within the CFfFR
were identified. In conclusion, some areas for further research were identified.