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Financial accounting and reporting in Germany: A case study on German accounting tradition and experiences with the IFRS adoption

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  • Fülbier, Rolf Uwe
  • Klein, Malte
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    Abstract

    Financial accounting is rooted in national thoughts, traditions and institutional settings. As a consequence, accounting has developed heterogeneously over time and fulfilled contracting purposes in divergent national environments. Against this background, we argue that the ongoing process of accounting internationalization and imposed harmonization carries with it the danger of deforming country-specific balancing factors in the accounting systems, especially when the national environment for economic and contractual activities is not harmonized at all. In contrast to more evolutionary integration and adjustment processes of the past where spillover effects have always existed, the rapidity of the current process and coercive nature increases country-specific frictions. To support our argument and to substantiate the interplay of accounting as a contractual device and country-specific characteristics, we provide an in-depth case study of one country, Germany. We illustrate how the traditional German commercial law accounting system has evolved over time to meet specific contractual needs. We demonstrate how the current process of globalization and accounting internationalization has been attended by increasing frictions and challenges, especially on the contractual and regulatory level. We finally investigate the consequences on the German standard setting system, which also includes the changing role of German accounting research. -- Als standardisierte Kommunikation zwischen Unternehmensbeteiligten wurzelt Rechnungslegung stets auch in nationalen Traditionen, Konzepten und institutionellen Rahmenbedingungen. Insofern verwundert es nicht, dass sich Rechnungslegung weltweit heterogen entwickelt hat und unter unterschiedlichen nationalen Bedingungen unterschiedlichen Zwecken folgt. Dabei birgt die seit Jahren zu beobachtende Internationalisierung und oktroyierte Harmonisierung der Rechnungslegung die Gefahr, landesspezifische (Ausgleichs-)Faktoren in der Rechnungslegung zu nivellieren, obwohl sonstige Rahmenbedingungen unternehmerischer Aktivität keineswegs harmonisiert sind. Im Gegensatz zu den eher evolutorischen Integrations- und Anpassungsprozessen der Vergangenheit, in denen Einflüsse anderer Systeme durchaus erkennbar waren, dürften die Schnelligkeit und der regulatorische Zwangscharakter des gegenwärtigen Prozesses landesspezifische Friktionen erzeugen. Um diese Argumentation zu untermauern und um das komplexe Zusammenspiel von Rechnungslegung als Vertragskoordinationsinstrument mit landesspezifischen Rahmenbedingungen zu verdeutlichen, wird eine detaillierte Fallstudie präsentiert, die auf ein einziges Land, Deutschland, zielt. Darin wird aufgezeigt wie sich handelsrechtliche, deutsche Bilanzierungstradition vor dem Hintergrund spezifischer Koordinationsbedürfnisse historisch entwickelt hat. Untersucht werden zudem die Friktionen und Herausforderungen auf unternehmensvertraglicher wie auch regulatorischer Ebene, die durch den gegenwärtigen Internationalisierungsprozess in der Rechnungslegung ausgelöst werden. Die Untersuchung schließt die dahingehenden Konsequenzen für das System der deutschen Rechnungslegungsregulierung und für die Rechnungslegungsforschung mit ein.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of Bayreuth, Chair of Finance and Banking in its series Bayreuth Working Papers on Finance, Accounting and Taxation (FAcT-Papers) with number 2013-01.

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    Date of creation: 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:bayfat:201301

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    Postal: Universitätsstraße 30, 95440 Bayreuth
    Web page: http://www.fiba.uni-bayreuth.de/de/index.html
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    Related research

    Keywords: German Accounting; Accounting Research; HGB; Code Law; Legal System; Socioeconomic-Environment; Institutional Settings; SME; Book-Tax-Conformity; Debt Financing; Accounting History;

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