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The persistence of international accounting differences as measured on transition to IFRS

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The international accounting classification literature emphasises the importance of understanding how institutional factors shape accounting regulations and practices. With the mandatory adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) in the European Union and Australia in 2005, our empirical study examines whether three international accounting classification systems relating to equity financing, law and culture still had merit as measured on transition to IFRS and explore whether they are effective in grouping accounting systems. Using IFRS as the yardstick, we find statistically significant differences in the measurement of shareholders’ equity as between strong (Class A) versus weak (Class B) equity financing systems, common law versus code law systems and cultural systems based on ‘Anglo’, ‘Nordic’ and ‘More Developed Latin’ cultural groups. With regard to the measurement of net income, however, we find statistically significant differences only in respect of strong (Class A) versus weak (Class B) equity financing systems. Our findings demonstrate that traditional international accounting system differences still persisted at the time of IFRS adoption even after long periods of harmonisation and growing international accounting convergence.
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Keywords: IFRS; accounting harmonisation; accounting systems; international accounting; international accounting classification

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Accounting, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden 2: Business School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia 3: School of Accounting, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia 4: Faculty of Business, Economics and Management Information Systems, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

Publication date: February 23, 2015

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