No. 113: The Role of Real Effects in Accounting Standard Setting

Year: 2022
Type: Working Paper

Abstract

Several studies document ex-post effects of accounting standards on firms’ business activities – such as reduced lease financing, R&D, or hedging. Are such ‘real effects’ unforeseen by accounting standard setters (as is sometimes assumed), or might they even be intended – to promote certain policy objectives? In this project, we analyze these questions by interviewing individuals involved in IFRS-related standard setting and analyzing their public statements. Specifically, we ask whether these standard setters are ex-ante aware of potential real effects, and whether they consider them costs, benefits, or non-issues when deciding among alternative accounting practices. We further explore whether standard setters’ views vary predictably with individuals’ standard-setting institutions, professional backgrounds, and political ideologies. To address these questions, we interviewed Board and staff members of national standard-setting bodies, the IASB, and EFRAG. While we find that, irrespective of their backgrounds or ideologies, individual standard setters are aware of real effects, we document substantial differences across standard setters’ ideologies with respect to the (perceived) relevance of such effects. Given prior work that documents politicians intervening in standard setting when undesired real effects loom, our evidence sheds light on how real effects are considered at the level of the ‘neutral’ standard setter itself.

Participating Institutions

TRR 266‘s main locations are Paderborn University (Coordinating University), HU Berlin, and University of Mannheim. All three locations have been centers for accounting and tax research for many years. They are joined by researchers from LMU Munich, Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management, ESMT Berlin and Goethe University Frankfurt who share the same research agenda.