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Implications of the 'IAS Regulation' for Research into the International Differences in Accounting Systems

  • Thorsten Sellhorn
  • Sylwia Gornik-Tomaszewski

Meek and Thomas (2004) call for research on the continued relevance of 'rediscovered' dichotomous accounting classifications. We provide such evidence by examining how developments surrounding the 'IAS Regulation' (1606/2002) influenced international differences in accounting systems in the European Union. Since a sufficient time series of actual post-2005 International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) reporting practice is not yet observable, we propose an initial re-classification of accounting systems based on evidence available to date, that is, the degree of implementation of the IAS Regulation in the Member States. Consistent with Nobes (1998), we find that the degree of public accountability to outside investors (the 'public/private' criterion) is becoming the primary differentiator for accounting systems in Europe, surpassing country-level variables such as legal system and culture. The distinction between consolidated and individual financial statements is the second emerging differentiator. While consolidated accounting is becoming more uniform across countries, cross-country cultural differences are most likely to persist in individual accounting. Based on our analysis we highlight two important areas of future research beyond the consolidated financial statements of listed firms (e.g. Nobes, 2005; Schipper, 2005). First, at the country level, the interaction of IFRS and individual financial statements will need to be reassessed. In addition, research could help introduce a degree of differentiation into financial reporting regulation for unlisted firms, because these firms are not a homogeneous group. Also, the convergence of national GAAP systems with IFRS will benefit from fresh research insights. Second, at the firm level, future research could analyze the extent to which the determinants and consequences of IFRS adoption, an area well researched for publicly traded firms (e.g. Cuijpers and Buijink, 2005), generalize to unlisted firms. Such research will help detect emerging patterns of accounting systems within an international context. It will generate insights into the disconnect of consolidated accounts from national influences, the degree of uniformity of consolidated accounts among international firms, the continued relevance of traditional classifications of international accounting systems for individual accounts and accounts of unlisted companies, and the convergence of national standards with IFRS.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1080/09638180600920392
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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Accounting in Europe.

Volume (Year): 3 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 187-217

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Handle: RePEc:taf:acceur:v:3:y:2006:i:1:p:187-217
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