Assessing financial reporting comparability across institutional settings : the case of pension accounting

Gordon, Isabel & Gallery, Natalie (2012) Assessing financial reporting comparability across institutional settings : the case of pension accounting. The British Accounting Review, 44(1), pp. 11-20.

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The drive for comparability of financial information is to enable users to distinguish similarities and differences in economic activities for an entity over time and between entities so that their resource allocation decisions are facilitated. With the increased globalisation of economic activities, the enhanced international comparability of financial statements is often used as an argument to advance the convergence of local accounting standards to international financial reporting standards (IFRS). Differences in the underlying economic substance of transactions between jurisdictions plus accounting standards allowing alternative treatments may render this expectation of increased comparability unrealistic. Motivated by observations that, as a construct, comparability is under-researched and not well understood, we develop a comparability framework that distinguishes between four types of comparability. In applying this comparability framework to pension accounting in the Australian and USA contexts, we highlight a dilemma: while regulators seek to increase the likelihood that similar events are accounted for similarly, an unintended consequence may be that preparers are forced to apply similar accounting treatment to events that are, in substance, different.

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ID Code: 49164
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Comparability, Globalisation, Pension accounting, Comparability framework
DOI: 10.1016/
ISSN: 0890-8389
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > ACCOUNTING AUDITING AND ACCOUNTABILITY (150100)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Accountancy
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in The British Accounting Review. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in The British Accounting Review, [VOL 44, ISSUE 1, (2012)] DOI: 10.1016/
Deposited On: 15 Mar 2012 22:01
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:01

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