The role of institutions in the process of global convergence to IFRS

Aprile Roberto, Bini Laura / Financial Reporting / 2-2018

This paper uses some major contributions from accounting institutional theory to discuss the process of convergence toward IFRS. Our analysis identifies the most influential institutions and the complex networks of relationships among institutions, offering a valuable contribution to a better understanding of the current state of diffusion of IFRS around the world and the current progress of the convergence process. We identify the different roles of some main institutions, grouping them into three categories and highlighting their main interactions in different contexts. We place global and international institutions such as IOSCO, EU and other international agencies such as the World Bank into the first category, since they have fostered the initial phase of the convergence process. Secondly, we find that the presence of institutions such as local government and standard setters, which play an intermediary role, mediates between the need to guarantee the implementation of the standards and the need to preserve pre-existing equilibria. Finally, we discuss the role played by the end-users of the standards. Our analysis shows that these institutions are the most critical forces. In fact, in the abscence of a structured, led program that orients these forces towards IFRS, the convergence process could result in the proliferation of local systems of standards, increasing the risk that harmonisation is achieved only in name.

IFRS, accounting convergence, institutional theory, isomorphism

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