IPSAS for European Union member states as starting points for EPSAS – analysis of the discourses among countries and stakeholders

Polzer, Tobias and Reichard, Christoph (2019) IPSAS for European Union member states as starting points for EPSAS – analysis of the discourses among countries and stakeholders. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 33 (2/3). pp. 247-264. ISSN 0951-3558

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Purpose – The European Commission is pursuing an initiative to establish European Public Sector Accounting Standards (EPSAS) as a common mandatory set of rules for financial reporting of all member states of the European Union (EU). As a basis for developing EPSAS, the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) are being used. The purpose of this paper is to structure and analyze the discussion around EPSAS, with particular emphasis on the arguments that were brought forward by governments and other stakeholders of various EU countries regarding the suitability of IPSAS.

Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on several schools of thought in new institutional theory, how the prevailing institutional contexts in countries influence the debates is explored. Empirically, this research investigates the responses to a consultation on the suitability of IPSAS for EU member states and takes a closer look, via document analysis, at France and Germany as two critical cases.
Findings – It is found that, first, the majority of arguments from respondents are framed in a rational choice way. Second, skeptics of IPSAS tend to make arguments rather from positions closer to historical and/or sociological institutionalism.

Research limitations/implications – The paper illustrates that while technical matters around EPSAS seem solvable, political, historical, and cultural differences go deeper, and need to be addressed by change agents. Regarding limitations of the research, first, the analysis concentrates on financial reporting and does not deal with the implications for more reliable and comparable national accounts in the context of the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010). Second, it is focused on debates in the context of the EPSAS proposal, and there is a need for an evaluation after the changes have gone live.

Originality/value – The study looks at a text genre that has so far received less attention in public sector accounting research: responses to consultations. The paper contributes to the literature by showing how institutional contexts matter in settings characterized by contestation of reform contents.

Keywords – Accounting Reforms, IPSAS, EPSAS, EU, New Institutional Theory, Content Analysis, Contestation of Reform Contents

Paper type – Academic research paper

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Accounting and Finance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance > HJ9701 Public accounting. Auditing
Depositing User: Tobias Polzer
Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2019 11:21
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2020 14:30
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/87987

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