Reply to Discussion of “Why do National GAAP Differ from IAS? The Role of Culture”

Herve Stolowy (First Author), Yuan Ding (Participant Author), Thomas Jeanjean (Participant Author)

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In this paper, we investigate the role of culture as an explanatory factor underlying differences between national GAAP and International Accounting Standards (IAS). National GAAP can differ from IAS in two ways: (1) divergence: both national GAAP and IAS cover a specific accounting topic but prescribe different methods; or (2) absence: national GAAP do not cover an accounting issue regulated by IAS. Based on Nobes' [Nobes, C. (Ed.) (2001). Gaap 2001-A Survey of National Accounting Rules Benchmarked Against International Accounting Standards. IFAD.] data, we construct a measure for the level of divergence of national GAAP benchmarked on IAS. We also create a measure (labeled absence) to assess the scope of national accounting rules compared to IAS. Our sample is made up of 52 countries. We show that culture matters more than legal origin (common law/civil-law) in explaining divergences from IAS. This result is robust to two proxies for culture: Hofstede [Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations. Second, Sage Publications (London).] and Schwartz [Schwartz, S. H. (1994). Beyond individualism/collectivism: New cultural dimensions of values. In U. Kim, H. C. Triandis, C. Kagitcibasi, S. C. Choi, & G. Yoon (Eds.), Individualism and collectivism: Theory, method and applications (85-119). Sage.]. Our findings contribute to the ongoing debate on accounting harmonization. More specifically, they suggest that the technical and/or political dimensions of the debate, although essential, are not the only ones involved. Opposition to IAS is not exclusively driven by contractual motives, a claimed technical superiority, or legal origin, but also by diversity in cultural factors. Another contribution of this paper is the development of a two-dimensional score to measure the differences between national GAAP and IAS. © 2005 University of Illinois. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-362
JournalInternational Journal of Accounting
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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