Achieving International Harmonisation Through Accounting Policy Choice

37 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2002

See all articles by Ann Tarca

Ann Tarca

University of Western Australia

Date Written: August 4, 2002


The impact of international harmonisation pressures on accounting policy choice is investigated in this study by examining the extent to which firms make policy choices that align with US GAAP or use International Accounting Standards (IAS) options that are not acceptable under US GAAP. Five policy areas (tangible assets, available-for-sale marketable securities, identifiable intangible assets, research and development expenditure and goodwill amortisation period) are considered. The firms are domiciled in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan and Australia.

In a composite measure of alignment, and in individual policies, there is more use of US GAAP-consistent policies, and little use of options allowed under IAS. US GAAP alignment is greatest among firms domiciled in Germany, France and Japan. There is some use of IAS options in the United Kingdom, and most use in Australia. Foreign listing and leverage are significant factors for policy choice. Foreign firms traded in the United States (US) are more likely to align with US GAAP than other firms. The listing effect is observed in the regulated and less-regulated US markets, indicating voluntary alignment of policy choices with US GAAP and demonstrating that the US regulator's requirements influence not only the use of non-national standards and the provision of additional information, but also the choices made within a firm's accounting policies.

Keywords: international accounting convergence, accounting policy choice, International Accounting Standards, foreign stock exchange listings

JEL Classification: M41, M44, M47, F43

Suggested Citation

Tarca, Ann, Achieving International Harmonisation Through Accounting Policy Choice (August 4, 2002). Available at SSRN: or

Ann Tarca (Contact Author)

University of Western Australia ( email )

Business School
35 Stirling Highway
Crawley WA 6009
+61 8 6488 3868 (Phone)
+61 8 6488 1047 (Fax)

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