The paper analyses the concept of ‘user needs’, which has been widely adopted by official bodies as the basis of a conceptual framework for financial reporting, including the ASB in the UK, following the lead of the FASB in the US. The user needs approach is essentially deductive: if users of the financial statements are identified, together with the decisions such users want to make with the information such statements contain, then the required information can be specified in the appropriate form. The paper attempts to follow this logic, to test its viability, making reference to the literature and the conceptual framework statements of FASB and the ASB. The paper concludes that the approach throws up such serious problems that no clear conclusions can be drawn from it. FASB and the ASB do not explicitly face these problems, and effectively abandon the user needs criterion. User needs can only serve a rhetorical function within conceptual framework documents.
McCartney, S. (2004), "The use of usefulness: An examination of the user needs approach to the financial reporting conceptual framework", Journal of Applied Accounting Research, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 52-79. https://doi.org/10.1108/96754260480001037
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