In 1975 the UK's Accounting Standards Steering Committee published a paper called The Corporate Report, to which there appears to be no on-line link.
They said that the benefit of publishing company accounts should be the resulting ability to appraise information on:
1. the performance of the entity;
2. its effectiveness in achieving stated objectives;
3. evaluating management performance, including on employment, investment and profit distribution;
4. the company's directors;
5. the economic stability of the entity;
6. the liquidity of the entity;
7. assessing the capacity of the entity to make future reallocations of its resources for either economic or social purposes or both;
8. estimating the future prospects of the entity;
9. assessing the performance of individual companies within a group;
10. evaluating the economic function and performance of the entity in relation to society and the national interest, and the social costs and benefits attributable to the entity;
11. the compliance of the entity with taxation regulations, company law, contractual and other legal obligations and requirements (particularly when independently identified);
12. the entity's business and products;
13. comparative performance of the entity;
14. the value of the user's own or other user's present or prospective interests in or claims on the entity;
15. ascertaining the ownership and control of the entity.
It was their desire to provide information to achieve these objectives.
It's a sad thought that 32 years later we have a long way to go on many of these.