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The Influence of Regulation on the Publication of Consolidated Statements

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The impact of regulation on the publication of consolidated statements by Australian listed companies is examined by reviewing evidence of the first use of consolidated statements by holding companies listed on the Sydney Stock Exchange, excluding companies incorporated elsewhere, and relating that evidence to the chronology of the development of statutory, professional and stock-exchange regulations permitting or prescribing the use of consolidated statements. The findings are that the wider adoption of consolidation accounting has been associated with changes in statutory and other forms of regulation. These findings contradict the conclusions of earlier studies (Whittred, 1986, 1987, 1988), namely that regulation was of minimal influence, and that the adoption of consolidation accounting was explainable by ‘contracting cost variables’. Major flaws identified in these earlier studies were an apparent failure to recognize that Sydney listed companies may have been subject to regulations established in other jurisdictions, and a crucial misinterpretation of the history of Australian stock exchange listing rules, which led to the misidentification of listed companies as having adopted consolidation ‘voluntarily’.

The findings also underline comments made previously in critiques of other papers which have tested hypotheses incorporating agency or contracting costs. While historical analysis can assist the exercise of judgment in the classification of events, those who rely on historical evidence in the development of theories and in framing hypotheses should use that evidence with care, having regard to pertinent contextual factors.
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Keywords: Consolidated financial statements; History; Regulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Accounting, University of New South Wales, 2: Graduate Student, University of New South Wales

Publication date: 01 March 1998

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