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Implementing IFRSs in the UK devolved administrations

Anthony Wall (Ulster Business School, University of Ulster, Newtownabbey, UK)
Ciaran Connolly (Queen's University Management School, Queen's University Belfast, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 15 February 2016

Abstract

Purpose

Utilising concepts drawn from the governmentality literature, the purpose of this paper is to examine the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) in the UK’s devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales in order to assess why they were adopted and how their introduction has been governed.

Design/methodology/approach

This research applies a combination of three different approaches, namely: a content analysis; an anonymous online questionnaire; and semi-structured interviews.

Findings

These include: the transition has had minimal impact upon policy setting and the information produced to aid budgeting and decision making; IFRSs are not entirely appropriate for the public sector; the time, cost and effort involved outweighed the benefits; public sector accounting has become overly-complicated; and the transition is not perceived as part of a wider privatisation programme.

Research limitations/implications

As this study focuses upon the three UK devolved administrations, the findings may not be applicable in a wider setting.

Practical/implications

Public sector change must be adequately resourced, carefully planned, with appropriate systems, trained staff and interdisciplinary project teams; accounting change should be based on value for money; and a single, coherent financial regime for the way in which government uses budgets, presents estimates to Parliament and publishes its resource accounts should be implemented.

Originality/value

This study highlights that accounting change is not just a technical issue and, while it can facilitate a more business-like environment and enhance accountability, all those affected by the changes may not have the requisite skills to fully utilise the (new) information available.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to express their gratitude to those individuals, whose comments and views are reported in this paper, who kindly responded to the questionnaire and agreed to be interviewed. The authors would also like to thank the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland, the Scottish Accountancy Trust for Education and Research and the Chartered Accountants Ireland Educational Trust for the financial and research support of this study.

Citation

Wall, A. and Connolly, C. (2016), "Implementing IFRSs in the UK devolved administrations", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 198-225. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-07-2014-1780

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited