هیئت مدیره استانداردهای آموزش حسابداری بین المللی: مشروعیت سازمانی در زمینه آموزش حسابداری حرفه ای
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting Forum, Available online 28 October 2013
This research considers the organisational legitimacy of the International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB), and whether it is perceived or accepted as the appropriate standard setter for professional accountancy education across the globe. We define the organisational field in which the IAESB operates to influence education practice, and frame the research through the lens of both strategic and institutional traditions of organisational legitimacy. In this context, we examine the extent to which 21 selected professional accountancy bodies, operating in diverse jurisdictions across the globe, disclose compliance with IAESB pronouncements. Our results show that disclosed compliance does not always indicate conformity of practice amongst the professional bodies which have obligated themselves to comply with International Education Standards (IES). We discuss reasons for this varied immunity to IES practice and the impact this has on the IAESB achieving its self-declared objective of developing and influencing globally acceptable and implementable standards for professional accountancy education. This research should be useful to professional accountancy educationalists, and to the IAESB in pursuit of its objective.
This research considers the organisational legitimacy of the International Accounting Education Standards Board (IAESB), and whether it is perceived or accepted as the appropriate standard setter for professional accountancy education across the globe. The International Accounting Education Standards Board is one of The International Federation of Accountant (IFAC)’s committees which set standards in the public interest.1 National professional accountancy bodies gain recognition from being members of IFAC and can become full members of IFAC if they have rigorous qualification programmes and professional designations that allow their members to practice in their respective jurisdictions (Hall & Sen, 2004). IFAC's vision of such a rigorous programme of professional education is mandated by the International Education Standards (IESs)2 pronounced by the IAESB. There are two divergent notions in the literature relating to theoretical approaches that can be used to understand perceived or assumed organisational legitimacy of global accounting entities.3 The strategic approach examines the persuasive and calculative action of a particular ‘focal’ organisation’ in its attempt to extract perceptions of legitimacy from its environment (for example, Durocher et al., 2007 and Fogarty et al., 1994). In contrast, the institutional approach seeks to understand embedded institutions, being cultures, norms and beliefs, that penetrate entire fields of organisational life, such that organisations are cognitively accepted to be legitimate entities in the organisational field (for example, see Graham & New, 2003). It is at this interface between strategic actions and cultural institutions that conflicts and oppositional discourses emerge and organisational legitimacy may be contested (see for example: Bengtsson, 2011, Crawford et al., in press and Chiapello and Medjad, 2009). To some extent, this framework for analysis resonates with middle-range theory for understanding organisations; this theory sets “organisations in a dynamic societal context whilst maintaining the role and importance of human actors [agency]… and provides a framework for judging the values or danger of organisational change” (Broadbent & Laughlin, 2005, p. 13). The research presented in this paper seeks to evaluate whether the purposive action of the IAESB to attain legitimacy for harmonising global professional accountancy education can be successful against embedded institutions existing at the national level where educationalists implement practice. The IAESB sets standards to increase the “competence of the global accountancy profession and contribute to strengthened public interest” (IAESB, 2013) to effectively interpret and consistently implement international accounting and auditing standards (IFAC, 2012). Indeed, the IAESB declares that adopting IES practice will enhance education in the public interest by “contributing to the ability of the accountancy profession to meet the needs of decision makers” (IAESB, 2010a, p. 10). The logic expressed in the IESs must therefore articulate with the logic of international accounting and auditing standards, to ultimately converge international practice. However, the challenge to the IAESB to motivate education practice in its organisational field goes beyond influencing professional bodies and international regulators with an interest in globalised accounting practice. Audiences involved in professional accountancy education also include, for example: professional bodies operating in countries at different stages of development; national governments; private training providers; universities; and employers. There is little published research into understanding the development and logic of IAESB pronouncements, and whether IESs are perceived as legitimate by education stakeholders (‘audiences’) in the field of professional accounting education. This research addresses the gap and examines two areas: First, it discusses the organisational field in which the IAESB operates and seeks to influence education practice, followed by an overview of the governance structure and the standard setting process of the IAESB; in so doing, we consider the professional accountancy education ‘logic’ emerging in IESs and reflect on the extent to which this logic might be perceived or accepted as legitimate within the organisational field. Second, we examine the extent to which selected professional bodies’ disclose compliance with IESs and use the findings to argue whether the IAESB has attained organisational legitimacy in pursuit of its self-declared goal of harmonising professional accountancy education across the globe. Our article contributes to the body of knowledge on the globalisation of professional accountancy education in several respects. First, it answers calls for a better understanding of how influences embedded in the standard setting process produces standards that may conflict with national regulatory environments (Bengtsson, 2011, Crawford et al., in press, Chiapello and Medjad, 2009, Durocher et al., 2007 and Loft et al., 2006). Second, much attention has been aimed at understanding the influences impacting on the development of, and compliance with, international accounting and auditing standards; however, education standards, developed to underpin practice, have been largely ignored. Finally, this article highlights important challenges to the IAESB that threaten the effective and converged implementation of IESs which will arguably lead to differences in the application of international accounting and auditing standards. The remainder of this paper proceeds as follows. The next section discusses the challenges to professional accountancy education in the context of globalisation. This is followed by an appraisal of the IAESB, the organisational field in which it seeks to exert influence, and the governance structure with in which it develops IESs for professional accountancy education. We then outline our understanding of organisational legitimacy as it pertains to the IAESB and acceptance of its IESs by diverse audiences across the globe – specifically, we discuss: the relationship between compliance and legitimacy; examine how the IAESB might act to garner support for IESs; and explore tensions in organisational field that potentially render professional accountancy bodies and wider education stakeholders immune to the strategic efforts of the IAESB to invoke its preferred education logic within national jurisdictions. The method for gathering compliance information is outlined, followed by a presentation of our findings and discussion of the issues arising in the research. Finally, we present our conclusions and policy implications for the IAESB in relation to developing meaningful and acceptable IESs for the global accounting profession.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In examining the role of the IAESB as an international standard setter in the field of professional accounting education, this paper attends to requests in the literature to examine the governance structure and the public interest activities of international, private standard setters (for example, see Bengtsson, 2011, Chiapello and Medjad, 2009, Crawford et al., in press and Loft et al., 2006). Additionally, our research responds to calls to investigate the reasons why new forms of practice become legitimate in society (O’Dwyer et al., 2011). Compliance with IFAC standards, including those issued by the IAESB, should further induce other professional accountancy bodies to accept and comply with IFAC standards (Humphrey et al., 2009), thus expanding audiences. However, we conclude that the IAESB has not obtained full legitimacy for IES converged practice from external audiences, in particular those audiences (see Fig. 1) that do not participate in the standard setting process of the IAESB and are not adequately represented in the governance structure of IFAC. It would seem that, through obligating to comply with IESs and SMO returns, IFAC member bodies are conforming to the symbolic carriers of the IAESB's education logic, but in many cases we observe that this is decoupled (Lepoutre & Valente, 2012) from material practice at the national level for educating professional accountants. To garner audience support and ensure compliance with IESs, the IAESB must develop standards that are culturally relevant by ensuring that state and professionally regulated regimes are represented in the standard setting process and the views of professional bodies operating across all Worldbank income categories are incorporated into standard development. We observe that IFAC member bodies are willing to document compliance with IESs through participation in the IFAC Compliance Programme. However, there is variation in IES motivated practice, for which we suggest several reasons. First, as with the findings of Needles et al. (1992), it would appear that due to “ineffectiveness of the standard setting process and lack of authority”. IESs pronounced by the IAESB may not be perceived as pragmatically and/or morally legitimate across all IFAC member bodies, and audiences who are not IFAC member bodies may not be aware of IESs. The standards are not developed in a culturally inclusive manner leading to moral legitimacy concerns amongst external audiences who are not involved in the standard setting process, or who are part of regulatory regimes that do not recognise IESs as pragmatically or morally legitimate. In addition, institutional contradictions arising between the strategic efforts of the IAESB to secure evaluative legitimacy may not be enough to transcend the cultural embeddedness of material practice by organisations involved in accounting education at the national level. Second, the IAESB does not have the power or resources to monitor and enforce compliance, and this lack of power is particularly evident where accounting education is practiced and regulated within polycentric regimes. And finally, some IES requirements are timid, broad and minimal, as was observed by Needles et al. (1992) in relation to IFAC education guidelines, thus enabling ‘incidental’ compliance with aspects of IESs without member bodies bestowing legitimacy on IAESB advocated practice and without the IAESB motivating any change in behaviour of IFAC member bodies in relation to their programmes of professional accounting education. IFAC member bodies appear to adopt the symbolic IES carriers of the IAESB's logic by declaring that they comply with IESs. However, Lepoutre and Valente (2012) state that “organisations [IFAC member bodies in this case], concerned with survival and thus legitimacy, take on forms not necessarily because particular forms are technically appropriate, but rather because they conform to socially accepted notions of what is appropriate [and] deviating from such notions, or institutional logics, could be considered foolish” (p. 285). What we observe amongst IFAC member bodies is that engagement with the symbolic carriers of international accounting education can be ‘decoupled’ from actual practice at the national level. Professional bodies operating at the national level “work through an interplay of multiple arrangements and levels of influence” (p. 285) that may render them immune to the IAESB's advocated logic. This is arguably not because IFAC member bodies are “foolish”; it is perhaps because the influence of material carriers of professional accounting education at the national level, being the “routines, relationship systems and artefacts that materialise and reproduce [practice]” (Lepoutre & Valente, 2012, p. 286), transcend IAESB's strategic efforts to persuade its constituents implement IES practice. We also observe that IFAC member bodies are differentially sensitive to the IAESB's actions to converge global education practice. Such varying response in immunity to carrying out the practice embodied in the IAESB's symbolic carriers of its logic within the education field can be attributed to “low sensitivity to a particular set of institutional influences” as a result of cultural and political pressures exerted at the national level (Lepoutre & Valente, 2012) where multiple agencies (Black, 2008) are controlling accounting education. It is evident therefore, that multiple, ‘local-logics’ persist in field of professional accounting education, and as yet, the IAESB has not emerged as a dominant standard setter in this field. As observed by Needles (2008), achieving harmonised global professional accounting education is a challenge because IFAC member bodies may not have sufficient influence over national regulatory frameworks and most members of the accounting education community are not members of IFAC member bodies. What we also observe is that the IAESB does not have the power or resources to monitor nor enforce IES compliance. To achieve its goal, we recommend that the IAESB should focus its strategic efforts towards attracting legitimacy, not only from its direct audiences who arguably accept IESs as the symbolic carriers of professional accountancy education logic, but also to the extent that the IAESB can actively influence education practice across multiple audiences in diverse jurisdictions to converge international education practice. Specifically, we suggest that the IAESB focuses on: (i) communicating and reaching out to new diverse education audiences who are often not IFAC member bodies; (ii) ensuring that alternative national logics are considered when developing IESs by working more closely with regulatory regimes in different jurisdictions, particularly where the audiences who regulate professional accounting education are less engaged with the national IFAC member body – this would enhance the likelihood of IESs being perceived as pragmatically and morally legitimate within national contexts; (iii) developing processes to monitor and enforce professional accounting education practice; and (iv) revise the content of IES to be meaningful, bold and less equivocal. If these recommendations are adopted by the IAESB, and it is successful in meeting its own objective, then IES practice will emerge as the prevailing logic for educating the global accounting profession to underpin harmonised accounting and audit practice. One final comment: Those involved in the management and governance of the IAESB may believe that that they have the autonomy, power and objectivity to persuade educationalists in the field to adopt the hegemonic logic embodied in IESs. However, our research shows that such global persuasion has not been successful across all audiences and “homogenisation and standardisation” (Lehman, 2009, p. 445) is far from evident in the professional accountancy education field.