No. 97: Understanding and improving the language of business – How corporate reporting research can better serve business and society


Financial accounting, the core of corporate reporting, is often characterized as the ‘language of business.’ Over the last roughly 100 years, and using an evolving set of theories, methods, and data, scholarly work in this area has been contributing to our understanding of this language as well as its improvement. This paper seeks, first, to characterize the field with a focus on its evolution in the German-speaking area, where, like elsewhere, normative research traditions interested in improving practice have been making way for positivist approaches that seek a detached understanding of ‘what is.’ Second, we discuss the changing users and institutional parameters that are reshaping corporate reporting, followed by a very personal view of ‘wicked’ societal problems and challenges that corporate reporting might be able to help address. Finally, we discuss directions in which research might evolve in order toaddress these issues, in order to make corporate reporting more useful for serving not only economic actors, but also society and the environment more broadly.

Participating Institutions

TRR 266‘s main locations are Paderborn University (Coordinating University), HU Berlin, and University of Mannheim. All three locations have been centers for accounting and tax research for many years. They are joined by researchers from LMU Munich, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, ESMT Berlin, Goethe University Frankfurt and Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg who share the same research agenda.