Measuring Firm Complexity with Accounting Reporting Complexity




We develop and evaluate a new measure of firm complexity using accounting information. Firm complexity is measured with Accounting reporting complexity (ARC) and is based on the count of accounting items disclosed in eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) filings.  ARC is associated with lower financial reporting quality, higher audit fees, greater filing delays, and with poor analysts' performance.  Data includes filings through December 31, 2021. The most recent data also includes ARC of recognized (financial statements) vs. disclosed information (financial statement notes), ARC for each financial statement (e.g., Income Statement), and several additional measures. 


Relevant papers that use ARC:


If you decide to use the data, please consider citing one of the following papers. These papers develop, validate, and/or use ARC:


Hoitash, R.,and Hoitash, U. Measuring Accounting Reporting Complexity with XBRL. The Accounting Review, January 2018, Vol. 93, No. 1, pp. 259-287.



Can Sell-Side Analysts’ Experience, Expertise and Qualifications Help Mitigate the Adverse Effects of Accounting Reporting Complexity.  Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting. Forthcoming.


Below we provide links to data that includes ARC and several related measures (We now include quarterly data):


ARC Data- SAS Format
Compressed archive in ZIP format [22.7 MB]



ARC Data- Excel Format
Microsoft Excel sheet [53.3 MB]



Data Dictionary
ARC Data Dictionary.docx
Microsoft Word document [23.4 KB]

XBRL and Accounting Complexity in the Media  

Accounting Today:

Professors propose new measure of accounting complexity

FEI Daily: Measuring Accounting Disclosure Complexity with XBRL

Compliance Week: As Complexity Rises, Quality Slides, XBRL-Based Study Says