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Full IFRS and IFRS for SMEs Adoption by Private Firms

Empirical Evidence on Country Level


Maximilian Saucke

The issuance of the International Financial Reporting Standard for Small and Medium-sized Entities (IFRS for SMEs) in July 2009 has mixed up the bipolar financial reporting landscape between Local Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAPs) and Full IFRS by adding a third dimension to international GAAP choice. The study examines the characteristics and determinants of Full IFRS and IFRS for SMEs adoption by private firms in 110 countries. It finds empirical evidence for the continued existence of local versions of IFRS and the worldwide emergence of a two standard system. The findings also suggest that while Full IFRS adoption was mainly driven by network effects and political pressures, countries adopt the IFRS for SMEs notably due to cost-benefit considerations.
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Since the foundation of the IASB in 2001, International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) have been adopted by listed companies in more than 130 countries worldwide. During the same period of time, many countries have also expanded the scope of IFRS adoption to the field of private firms. Since the issuance of the IFRS for SMEs in July 2009, the situation has become a lot more complex. The worldwide process towards international accounting harmonization cannot be summarized by simply adding up the number of Full IFRS adopters anymore. Separate analyses are needed for the field of listed and private firms as well as for Full IFRS and IFRS for SMEs adoption. Besides, countries continue to modify IFRS for local purposes instead of adopting IFRS ‘as published by the IASB’. They often restrict the mandatory or voluntary use of these standards to the individual or consolidated financial statements of local entities with a certain size or legal form. For this reason, more attention has to be given to the ‘how’ of IFRS adoption.

While most countries from Africa, Central America and the Caribbean seem to adopt IASB standards without any modification, EU-IFRS clearly differ from IASB-IFRS regarding the accounting for macro hedges (IAS 39 carve-out) and due to postponed EU endorsement. Similarly, it is disputed whether Australia has adopted IFRS and in how far convergence has already been achieved between Full IFRS and US GAAP. The same is true for the adoption of local versions of the IFRS...

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