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Determinants of public sector accounting reforms: A case study of Sri Lanka in rapidly developing Asia

Chitra Sriyani De Silva Lokuwaduge (Victoria University Business School, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)
Keshara De Silva (RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 17 January 2020

Issue publication date: 14 April 2020




The purpose of this paper is to extend the New Public Financial Management concept and the contingency model approach to an analysis of the determinants of the accrual-based International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) adoption process as a financial management reform in Sri Lanka, a developing country in Asia.


Based on the prior literature, this paper develops a framework to highlight the importance of accrual-based reforms in public sector accounting policies to enable better transparency and accountability. It shows the extent to which Sri Lankan public sector institutions have adopted IPSAS-based accounting standards and the limitations of adopting these standards in a developing country, using documentary analysis.


In developing countries, the public sector faces practical problems when adopting reforms due to limited institutional capacity, high political involvement and bureaucracy in decision making. This paper concludes that significant policy changes towards the adoption of international accounting standards have gained momentum over the last decade in Sri Lanka while the much larger economies in Asia are still studying this process. However, the prevailing political uncertainty in Sri Lanka has negatively impacted the implementation process.


Relatively little is known about the diffusion of, and the difficulties in, implementing accrual-based IPSAS in the Asian region. This paper is an attempt to fill this gap by exploring the Sri Lankan experience. This could be applied by other developing countries in Asia, including the high-growth nations, for policy adoption and accounting harmonisation.



De Silva Lokuwaduge, C.S. and De Silva, K. (2020), "Determinants of public sector accounting reforms: A case study of Sri Lanka in rapidly developing Asia", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 33 No. 2/3, pp. 191-205.



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