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On the road towards IPSAS with a maturity model: a Swiss case study

Nils Soguel (IDHEAP-Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)
Naomi Luta (IDHEAP-Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 18 January 2021

Issue publication date: 18 June 2021

225

Abstract

Purpose

The International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) have driven the modernisation of public systems of financial information. The extent and pace of their implementation remain uneven. The goal of this study was to measure whether and how much governmental accounting standards converge towards IPSAS' true and fair approach.

Design/methodology/approach

The empirical context of the 26 Swiss cantons was used to apply a simplified maturity model. Under two successive reforms (maturity stages), each canton's accounting standards was assessed and scored. The derived maturity levels indicate how close—or far—each canton has stood from a state of full IPSAS compliance (full maturity), at each stage of the process.

Findings

As Swiss cantons have a certain degree of autonomy in setting their own accounting standards, the evolving paths they followed when implementing IPSAS were heterogeneous. The maturity level attained by each canton within each stage thus varies. However, the results show that the two successive reforms had an overall favourable impact on Swiss cantonal accounting standards compliance with IPSAS, and fairly improved the faithfulness of reported financial information.

Originality/value

This research contributes to the international literature on public accounting standards and provides new insights for the assessment of convergence with IPSAS.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

We are indebted to all the cantonal finance department senior budget officers who provided us with the necessary information to compute maturity levels, to the members of the Swiss Public Sector Financial Reporting Advisory Committee who took time to rank and compare the criteria to assess the convergence and to Michelle Bailat-Jones for her editing assistance.

Citation

Soguel, N. and Luta, N. (2021), "On the road towards IPSAS with a maturity model: a Swiss case study", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 425-440. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPSM-09-2020-0235

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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