تفسیر و کاربرد "جدید" و "پیچیده" استانداردهای بین المللی گزارشگری مالی در فیجی: مفاهیم برای همگرایی استانداردهای حسابداری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|21500||2010||10 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Advances in Accounting, Volume 26, Issue 2, December 2010, Pages 280–289
This study extends prior research on accounting judgment and decision making research by examining the effects of ‘new’ and ‘complex’ accounting standards on judgments of professional accountants. It examines whether there are differences in judgments of professional accountants in Fiji when interpreting and applying selected International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs). A significant within-country difference in judgments of professional accountants has serious implications for convergence of accounting standards. The results show that interpretation and application of accounting standards are affected by complexity of the accounting standard and professional accountant's familiarity with the standard. The study also finds strong support for an interactive effect of familiarity with the accounting standards and complexity in accounting standards on judgments of professional accountants. Furthermore, the results show that differences in judgments exist between the Big 4 and non-Big 4 professional accountants when provided with new accounting standards that require complex judgments. The results of this study are of interest to stakeholders at a time when IFRSs are increasingly being adopted throughout the world and standard setters are struggling to promote compliance with those standards.
The number of countries adopting the International Accounting Standards (IASs) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) as their national standards is growing.3 IASs/IFRSs represent a principles-based or ‘substance over form’ regime (Chambers & Wolnizer, 1991, Doupnik & Richter, 2003 and Abacus Editorial, 2004). A ‘substance over form’ approach, in contrast to a legalistic approach, is driven by principles and concepts rather than by the application of strict rules. Principles-based accounting standards provide accountants with guidelines which require the application of professional judgment (Brown, Collins, & Thornton, 1993, 275). The existing core IASs and the new generation of IFRSs contain significant recognition and measurement alternatives and incorporate broad guidelines that can be applied in various contexts. To be able to consistently apply these standards, it is crucial to understand the rationale behind the principles espoused in particular standards (Picker et al., 2006, xiii). Therefore, with principles-based IASs/IFRSs, professional judgment is important and the desire for unbiased reporting is paramount (AAA Financial Accounting Standards Committee, 2003 and The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, 2006). Since a large number of countries are adopting the IASs/IFRSs (Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, 2009), it is important to examine whether professional accountants in these countries are interpreting and applying the IASs/IFRSs in a consistent manner. The implicit assumption in the convergence of accounting standards is that greater comparability in financial reports across countries will result if they adopt the IASs/IFRSs (Schultz & Lopez, 2001, 273). Apart from the use of a single set of standards, comparability in financial reporting also requires consistent interpretation and application of those standards across countries (Doupnik & Richter, 2003, Doupnik & Riccio, 2006 and Tsakumis, 2007). Motivated by the global thrust towards convergence and the implicit assumption that it will achieve international comparability in financial statements, this study examines the importance of consistency in interpreting and applying IASs/IFRSs in a country that has already adopted these standards in Australasia–Fiji. The Fiji Institute of Accountants (FIA) has adopted a set of standards based on extant IASs and IFRSs, which led to the modification of some of the previous standards and the introduction of new accounting standards. The previous set of standards in Fiji was based on Australian, New Zealand and the IASB standards. For the purpose of this study, the accounting standards that the professional accountants had historically been applying and were familiar with are denoted as ‘old’ standards, while the new standards that were introduced are denoted as ‘new’ standards. This categorization of standards as ‘old’ and ‘new’ provides a unique research setting to empirically test the differences in judgments of professional accountants, given both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ sets of standards. Specifically, using a sample of professional accountants from Fiji, this study examines the effects of familiarity with the accounting standards and complexity in accounting standards on judgments of professional accountants. While previous studies have shown that task familiarity has varying effects on professional judgment in various contexts (see Asare & McDaniel, 1996 for a review of these studies), they have not specifically considered whether accountants interpret and apply a ‘new’ set of standards in a consistent manner. This relationship between a ‘new’ standard and professional judgment is now paramount given the global thrust towards convergence and the frequency of changes to the IFRSs.4 Therefore, it is important to consider whether there is consistency in application of both an ‘old’ and a ‘new’ accounting standard. Examination of the effects of complexity in accounting standards is also important because a number of countries have found IFRSs to be ‘complex’ to apply (Devi, 2003 and Wong, 2004). For example, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) in the UK allowed a 120-day extension for companies submitting half-year reports under IFRS at 30 June 2005 (FSA, 2004). This example indicates concern by the regulators that companies reporting under IFRS would not be prepared in time because of complexities in interpreting new requirements under IFRSs. To provide further insights into our analysis we also assess whether the judgments of Big 4 versus non-Big 4 professional accountants are a function of accounting standards that vary in complexity and familiarity.5 The major reason for the differences in judgments of professional accountants within a country may be attributed to a lack of experience of the non-Big 4 professional accountants in dealing with complex accounting standards. In a similar manner to most other countries, large enterprises in Fiji are mostly audited by the Big 4 accounting firms and the non-Big 4 professional accountants serve the small and medium-sized enterprises. Hence, non-Big 4 professional accountants are not likely to apply complex standards and deal with issues that require greater exercise of professional judgment. Additionally, the non-Big 4 professional accountants may not have access to the same resources and training as do the Big 4 professional accountants. Given these differences between the Big 4 and non-Big 4 accountants, the objective is to test whether there are differences in the judgments of the Big 4 and non-Big 4 professional accountants when interpreting and applying accounting standards that vary in complexity and familiarity. This study has implications for the convergence of accounting standards. The aim of convergence is that the financial reports are comparable across different countries. However, there are many reasons why comparability in financial reporting is not determined by accounting standards alone (Ball et al., 2000 and Ball et al., 2003). Standards require adequate enforcement and judgment is involved in interpreting accounting standards. Yet, adopting the IASB standards is given almost exclusive attention in achieving comparable financial information. If IASs/IFRSs are not applied in a consistent manner then comparable reporting is unlikely to be achieved even if countries have adopted a single set of globally acceptable financial reporting standards. Given the changes in the business environments and the issue of complex principles-based IASs/IFRSs, it will be an onerous task to train professional accountants to interpret and apply these standards in a consistent manner (Bedard, 1991, Earley, 2001 and Vera-Munoz et al., 2001). To the extent that uncertainty expressions are being used in IASs/IFRSs and are interpreted differently by professional accountants in different countries, comparability of financial reports will continue to suffer (Doupnik & Richter, 2003, 16).
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Using a sample of professional accountants from Fiji, the objective of this study was to test whether interpretation and application of accounting standards vary as a function of complexity of the accounting standard and professional accountant's familiarity with the standard. We also examine whether the judgments of Big 4 versus non-Big 4 professional accountants are a function of accounting standards that vary in complexity and familiarity. An important result of this study is that interpretation and application of accounting standards are affected by complexity of the accounting standard and professional accountant's familiarity with the standard. The results show that both familiarity with the accounting standards and complexity in accounting standards have a significant effect on the judgments of professional accountants. Additionally, the results show that there is an interaction between the familiarity and complexity of accounting standards on the judgments of professional accountants. The results of this study also show that significant differences in judgments between the Big 4 and non-Big 4 professional accountants exist, even within-countries, if standards are ‘new’ and require complex judgments. Furthermore, the difference in judgments of the Big 4 and non-Big 4 professional accountants was found to be greater if standards are ‘new’ (unfamiliar) when compared to standards that are ‘old’ (familiar). Similarly, the difference in judgments of the Big 4 and non-Big 4 professional accountants were found to be greater if standards are ‘complex’ when compared to standards that are less complex. This result makes intuitive sense in suggesting that complex judgments simply require more effort when compared to simple and less complex judgments, and the exercise of judgment is further complicated when the standard is ‘new’. This study underlines the need to clarify the qualities that make an accounting standard-complex and to consider how these qualities hinder the judgments of professional accountants. For example, inconsistent judgments may be due to the use of ‘uncertainty expressions’ or a lack of clear principles in the standards. Though these forms of complexity are related and contribute to the overall complexity in accounting standards, the nature of these relationships are still to be explicated. While the tasks used in this study implicitly derived their complexity by drawing on scenarios from accounting standards that contained uncertainty expressions and increasing the number of principles used, other dimensions of complexity could have been considered.9 Thus, given the various related dimensions of complexity, future studies in this area can usefully consider the likely connections between various dimensions of complexity and its influence on the judgments of professional accountants. This study has broadened the scope of the literature on professional accountants' judgment. Prior studies have generally ignored the impact of a ‘new’ and ‘complex’ set of accounting standards on the judgments of professional accountants. Additionally, this study not only considers the interpretation of uncertainty expressions in principles-based standards but examines the judgments of professional accountants on specific accounting issues that are guided by the selective principles containing the uncertainty expressions in the IASs/IFRSs. Though a number of studies have considered the interpretation of uncertainty expressions, surprisingly little theoretical guidance exists as to how these uncertainties are interpreted and applied in providing a relevant financial disclosure. Thus, this study provides some evidence on how consistently professional accountants interpret and apply accounting standards which contain uncertainty expressions in real world situations. An important implication of the results is that it would be premature for the IASB and standard setters of countries adopting the IASs/IFRSs to assume that adopting IASs/IFRSs will lead to comparable financial reporting across countries. The results of this study clearly imply that consistency in judgment of professional accountants is difficult to attain even within a country, making it an important factor to consider in the convergence process. Adequate attention should be given to institutional differences among countries, more so to the differences in professional accountants' judgments. This is important as those differences would necessarily result in different decisions being made by professional accountants while applying IASs/IFRSs, eventually undermining the whole purpose of convergence. It is evident that there is a relentless push for the convergence of accounting standards and the rate of change in the IASB standard setting arena is significant. There are numerous revisions to the existing IASs and new IFRSs and Interpretations are issued quite frequently. To this end, it is a major exercise for countries adopting the IASs/IFRSs to cope with the international developments. Further research on issues relating to convergence of accounting standards with specific reference to countries that have already adopted the IASs/IFRSs is required. Also needed is an investigation on the specific ways of improving the judgments of professional accountants. Some limitations of this study need to be recognized. First, it has relied on prior studies to support the supposition that organizational cultures of big multinational accounting firms are homogeneous. This was also the assumption relied on by others, including Chow, Harrison, McKinnon, and Wu (2002), for example, and is defensible as numerous studies have shown empirical evidence of this. Nevertheless, research on this issue, especially in the context of countries that have already adopted the IASs/IFRSs, would usefully be part of future research. Second, while the scenarios used in this study are developed depicting real world examples and are representative of the types of decisions professional accountants encounter in practice, they cannot represent all possible cases. Third, this paper has used only one scenario to capture each condition which limits the generalizability of the results. Therefore, future studies may investigate specifically the impact of recently introduced complex IFRSs on the professional accountants' judgment in various contexts.