نقد چارچوب "گری" بر ارزش های حسابداری با استفاده از یک مطالعه موردی آلمانی
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|281||2011||15 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||محاسبه نشده|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 22, Issue 3, March 2011, Pages 273–287
In the move towards globalisation and convergence, the influence of culture on accounting has been increasingly recognised as an important and controversial topic. However, quantified and narrowly focused approaches such as Gray's (1988) and various extensions of Gray's framework of accounting values have largely dominated and strongly influenced cross-cultural accounting research and education without a critical evaluation of their theoretical and methodological limitations. Indeed, a significant number of studies, curricula and textbooks in international accounting have uncritically adopted Gray's exploratory framework. As such, the objective of this paper is to show the limitations of Gray's proposed hypotheses and the issues associated with the framework's largely uncritical adoption in international accounting literature. We provide evidence that Gray's framework gained authority and prominence in international accounting research largely because of subsequent researchers’ unquestioning acceptance and application of this methodology. Importantly, we propose that international accounting research may be further enhanced by taking into account contextual factors such as political, legal, social and historical environments of countries. Using Germany as a case study, we apply this more holistic approach to provide additional insights into the factors differentiating German accounting from other accounting models. We recommend that accounting research will be enhanced by a critical examination of contextual environments of countries rather than a focus on measurement, quantification, simplification and categorisation.
International harmonisation of accounting standards and the move towards convergence have revived an increasing interest in the influence of culture in accounting and auditing. The growing number of countries adopting International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the increasing acceptance of International Standards on Auditing (ISA) have further raised researchers’ attention. For example, more than one hundred countries require or permit the use of IFRS with more countries such as Canada, India and Korea planning to adopt IFRS by 2011 (Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, 2007 and IASB, 2007). This move towards convergence is driven largely on assumptions and assertions based on enhancing international comparability of accounting and auditing information. However, it is important to note that IFRS and IAS strongly rely on the ‘substance-over-form’ approach with a strong reliance on professional judgments. Importantly, there is ample evidence that professional judgments are influenced by accountants’ and auditors’ cultural values. Indeed, a growing number of studies have analysed the influence of culture on standard setting (Bloom and Naciri, 1989, Ding et al., 2005 and Schultz and Lopez, 2001), auditor independence (Agacer and Doupnik, 1991, Hwang et al., 2008 and Patel and Psaros, 2000) and accountants’ values and judgments (Doupnik and Riccio, 2006, Doupnik and Richter, 2003, Doupnik and Richter, 2004 and Patel, 2003). Although culture has long been recognised as an important and controversial topic in accounting, a large number of cross-cultural accounting studies have failed to capture the complexity and richness of cultural influences (Belkaoui and Picur, 1991, Lindsay, 1992, Patel, 2004 and Welton and Davis, 1990). Moreover, quantified and narrowly focused dimensional approaches such as Hofstede's (1980) and Hofstede and Bond's (1988) cultural dimensions, Gray's (1988) framework of accounting values and the various modifications of Gray's (1988) framework have largely dominated cross-cultural accounting research. Indeed, a significant number of studies such as Williams and Tower (1998), Schultz and Lopez (2001) and Hope et al. (2008) have tested and applied Gray's exploratory (1988) framework without critically evaluating its relevance and soundness. Additionally, curricula and textbooks in international accounting such as Mathews and Perera, 1991, Mathews and Perera, 1993 and Mathews and Perera, 1996, Roberts et al., 2002 and Roberts et al., 2005 and Doupnik and Perera (2009) have also relied heavily on Gray's (1988) framework often without further questioning its assumptions. In the remainder of the paper Gray's (1988) framework of accounting values and the various modifications and extensions of Gray's (1988) framework will be referred to as ‘Gray's framework’. Based on Hofstede's (1980) four cultural dimensions, Gray (1988) developed an exploratory framework incorporating four accounting values of professionalism, uniformity, conservatism and secrecy and proposed that these values “may be used to explain and predict international differences in accounting systems and patterns of accounting development internationally” (Gray, 1988, p. 5). Specifically, Gray (1988) hypothesises that Hofstede's (1980) cultural dimensions of power distance, individualism, uncertainty avoidance and masculinity determine accounting values, which explain differences in accounting systems internationally. Gray's (1988) deterministic and componential framework resulted in the formulation of simplistic and narrowly defined hypotheses such as, “the higher a country ranks in terms of uncertainty avoidance and power distance and the lower it ranks in terms of individualism and masculinity the more likely it is to rank highly in terms of secrecy” (Gray, 1988, p. 11). Since Hofstede (1980), Hofstede and Bond (1988) and Gray's frameworks have significant influence on accounting research and accounting education, it is important and timely that researchers critically evaluate such deterministic and narrowly focused frameworks. As such, the objective of this paper is to show the limitations of Gray's proposed hypotheses and the issues associated with the framework's largely uncritical adoption in international accounting literature. Indeed, we provide evidence to show that Gray's framework gained authority and prominence in international accounting research largely because of subsequent researchers’ unquestioning acceptance and application of Gray's methodology. In contrast to this ‘oversimplification’ we propose that international accounting research can be further enhanced by emphasizing the importance of contextual factors such as political, legal, social and historical environments of countries. Using Germany as a case study, we apply this more holistic approach to provide additional insights into the factors differentiating German accounting and particularly German financial disclosure from other accounting models and practices. Of the four accounting values specified in Gray's framework, the secrecy hypothesis has been formulated in a significant number of studies (Doupnik and Tsakumis, 2004, Gray and Vint, 1995, Hope, 2003, Hope et al., 2008, Jaggi and Low, 2000, Wingate, 1997 and Zarzeski, 1996). Moreover, Gray's secrecy and conservatism hypotheses are considered to be the most important accounting values because of their potential to influence recognition, measurement and disclosure of financial items (Doupnik and Riccio, 2006 and Doupnik and Tsakumis, 2004). Although Gray's framework claims to include “ecological influences” and “institutional consequences”, these linkages are not clearly explained and are largely neglected in the development of his narrowly focused two-dimensional accounting values (Gray, 1988, p. 7). Indeed, the importance of political, legal, historical, social and economic factors and their interdependencies in evaluating national accounting models is not evident in the hypothesis development that specifically focuses on Hofstede's (1980) four societal values. It is our objective to show that valuable insights and greater understanding of national accounting systems can be achieved by using holistic and richer perspectives to provide deeper insights into culture, accounting values and its interdependencies. Using Germany as a case study, this paper critically examines the influence of political, legal, historical, social and economic factors on Germany's accounting system and provides explanations to why German accounting may be perceived to be more ‘secretive’ relative to accounting in other countries. Specifically, we demonstrate that the largely oversimplified application of Gray's framework may have led to misconceptions in the explanation and prediction of differences and similarities between accounting values and systems internationally. We argue that international accounting research should not be blinded by the simplicity of Hofstede's (1980) and Gray's framework, but should further focus on capturing the complexity of cultural and contextual influences on accounting by including more holistic perspectives. The remainder of this paper is organised as follows. The first section introduces Gray's framework of accounting values and evaluates its uncritical adoption and application by subsequent researchers. The second section focuses on examining financial disclosure in the German accounting model. In light of this German case study, the final section concludes the paper by highlighting various reasons for the popularity of Gray's framework in mainstream international accounting research and recommends that international accounting research will be enhanced by taking into account historical, social, economic and legal factors in a country rather than a narrow focus on measurement, quantification, simplification and categorisation
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Our evaluation of Gray's framework of accounting values has revealed a number of concerns regarding its theoretical and methodological assumptions and issues associated with its largely uncritical adoption in international accounting research. Even though Gray's work is essentially exploratory, subsequent researchers have often uncritically invoked and applied Gray's framework without any concerns related to its assumptions. Indeed, our major criticisms relate to the uncritical application of Hofstede's societal dimensions and the subsequent simplistic and judgmental creation of four accounting values and also Gray's development of country clusters. Another problem associated with the simplistic operationalisation of accounting values and the largely uncritical adoption is the resulting overgeneralisation and the failure of subsequent researchers to appreciate contextual differences between countries. Many of the issues raised may be acceptable in an initial publication of an exploratory work, particularly considering that Gray suggested that, “much work lies ahead” (Gray, 1988, p. 14). While Gray's framework may have even been more prominent in the 1990s, recently published studies (Braun and Rodriguez, 2008, Hope et al., 2008, Noravesh et al., 2007 and Rodriguez, 2009) provide evidence of its continuing popularity with many accounting researchers. Moreover, Gray's framework has led to a proliferation of textbooks, which also have largely failed to discuss its limitations thus further enhancing Gray's popularity. Indeed, we argue that the often uncritical adoption and application of Gray's framework by subsequent researchers has led to an ‘overgeneralisation’ of the usefulness of Gray's framework in international accounting research. The wide acceptance of Gray's framework despite its limitations raises the important question of why frameworks such as Gray (1988) gain widespread acceptance and support in international accounting research. The widespread use and acceptance of Gray's accounting values suggests that an application of Gray's framework is taken as a token of scientific legitimacy and respectability in international accounting research. Furthermore, Gray was seen as one of the leading international accounting researchers and this may have led subsequent researchers to be cautious in challenging Gray's hypotheses. Moreover, we may conclude that the obsession of subsequent accounting researchers may lie in the fact that they found the use of Gray's framework contributing to their career in the competitive and often self-referential environment of accounting research. Indeed, Hopwood (2007, p. 1371) argues that the strong career focus in accounting research “encourages conservatism and conformity... with new methodological approaches attracting a large number of followers”. Furthermore, we argue that concerns and inconsistent results in the international accounting literature have not received appropriate attention and were often dismissed and this further popularised Gray's framework. Another factor contributing to the initial appeal and wide acceptance of Gray's framework may be the opportunity for cross-cultural accounting researchers to employ quantitative, statistical measures to analyse cultural influences in accounting and provide international comparisons of behaviour in accounting. Indeed, Gray's exploratory framework with the call for further research provided international accounting researchers with ample opportunities to engage in simplistic empirical research. Moreover, Gray's (1988) reliance on Hofstede's cultural values may have been another contributing factor by providing international accounting researchers with another set of data for hypotheses testing. These research opportunities may have been particularly appealing to research students who may be more comfortable in applying hypothetico-deductive approaches rather than writing richly nuanced critical qualitative narratives. International accounting researchers and younger academics in particular are undoubtedly under increasing pressure to ‘publish or perish’ with promotions and tenure decisions often being dependent on the number and perceived quality of publications. Over the last two decades, a few researchers have criticised the privileged status of positivistic research in the top accounting journals (Gendron, 2009, Hopwood, 2007, Reiter and Williams, 2002, Shapiro, 2006, Tinker et al., 1982 and Williams et al., 2006). As such, it may not come as a surprise that comparative international accounting research reflects this focus on quantitative studies employing the hypothetico-deductive method. Indeed, international accounting research seems to be driven by a strong impetus to provide classifications and categorizations often without considering whether these categorizations provide relevant insights. Similarly, cross-cultural accounting research seems to be in danger to rely on overgeneralisations of categorizations and cultural dimensions that often fail to capture the complexity and dynamics of cultures. In contrast to the strong focus on quantification, categorisations and measurements evident in the number of publications related to Gray's framework, we argue that international accounting research may be enhanced by taking into account important contextual factors. Indeed, accounting research is a social and dynamic discipline that requires ontological and epistemological openness and multiple discourses in its debates rather than being marginalized to categorizations, dimensions and clusters. Our evaluation shows that historically the German accounting model had a tendency to restrict financial disclosure and this is in contrast to the Anglo-American accounting models that have a strong emphasis on financial disclosure. Although Gray's model shows differences between the ‘Germanic’ cluster and the ‘Anglo-American’ cluster (Gray, 1998, p. 13) on disclosure, subsequent quantitative research studies have largely failed to provide adequate explanations for these differences. In contrast, we provide evidence to show that the German accounting model is the result of the specific German cultural, economic, social and legal environment. Indeed, Gray and subsequent researchers’ concepts about accounting values fail to capture Germany's distinct socio-economic model and capitalist tradition that has resulted in an accounting model that promotes greater stability and restrictions of financial disclosure. Indeed, the development of secretive tendencies and other concepts such as conservatism in the German accounting model provides evidence that reliance on simplistic cultural dimensions and accounting values neglects the distinctiveness of national accounting models and the factors that shape these models. In conclusion, our evaluation of Gray's framework has clearly shown that reliance on simplistic quantified theoretical models largely fails to enhance our understanding of accounting systems and may at times result in misleading and dubious classifications. Using Germany as a case study, we apply this more holistic approach to provide additional insights into the factors differentiating German accounting from other accounting models. We recommend that accounting research will be enhanced by a critical examination of contextual environments of countries rather than a focus on measurement, quantification, simplification and categorisation.