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IFRS Policy Changes and the Continuation of National Patterns of IFRS Practice

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  • Erlend Kvaal
  • Christopher Nobes

Abstract

International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) contain several policy options. This paper examines the choices made in 2008/9 IFRS financial statements by large listed companies from five countries on all the options that are observable. We compare these choices with those that had been made by the same companies in 2005/6, which (except for the German companies) was the year of transition to IFRS. For Australian and UK companies, we find - as expected - that there were few policy changes. However, despite the constraints on policy change within IFRS, we find that French and Spanish companies not only made more changes than the other companies but that they also made more changes after transition than at transition. Further investigation reveals that these findings are largely driven by a small number of topics. One possible explanation for the pattern of these changes is a 'learning' process, which is supported by finding that nearly all the post-transition changes made by the French and Spanish companies were away from previous national requirements. However, we consider other possible explanations. We also present the profiles of IFRS practices for 2008/9. Despite the changes in policy from 2005/6, we find clear evidence that national patterns of IFRS practice continue through the period, so that international comparability remains in doubt.

Suggested Citation

  • Erlend Kvaal & Christopher Nobes, 2012. "IFRS Policy Changes and the Continuation of National Patterns of IFRS Practice," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(2), pages 343-371, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:euract:v:21:y:2012:i:2:p:343-371
    DOI: 10.1080/09638180.2011.611236
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