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The evolution of accruals‐based Crown (government) financial statements in New Zealand

Joanne Lye (Department of Accounting and Management, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia)
Hector Perera (School of Accountancy, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand)
Asheq Rahman (Division of Accounting, Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 1 December 2005




The aim of this research is to illustrate how a change from cash‐based accounting to accruals‐based accounting in the core public sector of New Zealand occurred.


The grounded theory research strategy is used in a field study setting.


The findings suggest that there were six antecedents of the change – key people, axial principles, communicating ideas, contextual determinants, ethos, and knowledge. All of these converged to create the synergistic process of change that led to policy innovations. In this change process, accounting change was a means to an end, where accrual accounting was introduced in order to achieve ministerial control and measure performance of government entities to provide relevant information for management decision making.

Research limitations/implications

Since this is a case study based on a single country, not all analytical categories will be relevant to other contexts/countries. However, the study provides a conceptual framework that identifies constructs that are insightful for other settings.

Practical implications

The findings of the study will be useful to researchers and policymakers interested in appreciating the causes and catalysts of major policy shifts in public sector accounting. The findings suggest that there are no general reform formats that can be applied to all countries.


The insights were derived from participants who were directly involved in the change. The strength of grounded theory strategy used in this study was that, by not being bound by an a priori theory, one was able to ground one's understanding in the factors surrounding the change.



Lye, J., Perera, H. and Rahman, A. (2005), "The evolution of accruals‐based Crown (government) financial statements in New Zealand", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 18 No. 6, pp. 784-815.



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