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Towards an understanding of the phases of goodwill accounting in four Western capitalist countries: From stakeholder model to shareholder model

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  • Ding, Yuan
  • Richard, Jacques
  • Stolowy, Hervé

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to illustrate that the change in shareholders' attitude towards firms (from stakeholder model to shareholder model) influences the accounting treatments of goodwill. Our study is based on four countries (Great Britain, the United States, Germany, and France) and covers more than a century, starting in 1880. We explain that all these countries have gone through four identified phases of goodwill accounting, classified as (1) "static" (immediate or rapid expensing), (2) "weakened static" (write-off against equity), (3) "dynamic" (recognition with amortization over a long period) and (4) "actuarial" (recognition without amortization but with impairment if necessary). We contribute several new features to the existing literature on goodwill: our study (1) is international and comparative, (2) spans more than a century, (3) uses the stakeholder/shareholder models to explain the evolution in goodwill treatment in the four countries studied. More precisely, it relates a balance sheet theory, which distinguishes four phases in accounting treatment for goodwill, to the shift from a stakeholder model to a shareholder model, which leads to the preference for short-term rather than long-term profit, (4) contributes to the debate on whether accounting rules simply reflect or arguably help to produce the general trend towards the shareholder model, (5) demonstrates a "one-way" evolution of goodwill treatment in the four countries studied, towards the actuarial phase.

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  • Ding, Yuan & Richard, Jacques & Stolowy, Hervé, 2008. "Towards an understanding of the phases of goodwill accounting in four Western capitalist countries: From stakeholder model to shareholder model," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 718-755.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:33:y:2008:i:7-8:p:718-755
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:fan:frfrfr:v:html10.3280/fr2017-001002 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Terhi Chakhovich, 2010. "The role of outcome focus within subject positions tied to shareholder value," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 7(4), pages 450-475, November.
    3. Mathieu Floquet, 2010. "Informations Aux Actionnaires Et Informations Aux Salariés : Une Analyse Textuelle Du Rapport Annuel Et Du Rapport De L'Expert-Comptable Du Comité D'Entreprise," Post-Print hal-00481504, HAL.
    4. repec:dau:papers:123456789/14276 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:dau:papers:123456789/13577 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Yuan Ding & Thomas Jeanjean & Hervé Stolowy, 2013. "Accounting for Stakeholders or Shareholders? The Case of R&D Reporting," Post-Print hal-01002936, HAL.
    7. Nobes, Christopher & Stadler, Christian, 2013. "How arbitrary are international accounting classifications? Lessons from centuries of classifying in many disciplines, and experiments with IFRS data," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 573-595.
    8. David Collison & Colin Dey & Gwen Hannah & Lorna Stevenson, 2010. "Anglo-American capitalism: the role and potential role of social accounting," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 23(8), pages 956-981, October.
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    10. Lambert Jerman, 2013. "La Juste Valeur : Une Comptabilite Actuarielle Pour Les Marches ... Ou Les Comptables ?," Post-Print hal-00991877, HAL.
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    12. Pierre Labardin & Karine Fabre, 2011. "Entre coût historique et valeur de marché : Une histoire de la valeur comptable en France (XIXe - début XXe siècle)," Post-Print hal-00650538, HAL.
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    JEL classification:

    • M41 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Accounting - - - Accounting

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