A comparative study and critical evaluation of group accounting in Germany, France and the United Kingdom: the limitations of quantative analysis.

Fortes, Hilary Jack (2000) A comparative study and critical evaluation of group accounting in Germany, France and the United Kingdom: the limitations of quantative analysis. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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The importance of a form of international accounting standard has been well documented over the past twenty years. In the area of research the predominant
focus has been on the measurement of the degree of harmonisation between countries. This research, whilst qualitative in nature, has, in the main, relied on a
quantitative assessment of accounting practices in the countries being reviewed. In doing this, reliance has been placed on surveys, questionnaires and reviews of
financial statements. Each has its own set of problems. This is all illustrated and highlighted in the literature survey where argument and counter argument is evident over twenty years.

In all this, little has been done to review the foundation from which the data is extracted and it is argued that the very aspect of a qualitative work has been ignored completely in favour of the more high profile quantitative research.

The research sets out to investigate whether, in point of fact, there is a need to undertake a more searching and detailed examination of accounting practices in each country before any attempt is made of a measurement study or a classification study. Clearly the answer is that this must be done as only in so doing can the playing field be levelled and can the very basis for measurement or classification be fully understood in advance.

It was necessary to undertake a full sampling of groups of companies in the three member states and to draw the smaller sample from those final lists. This was to
prevent any aspect of bias being present and to ensure that only random sampling was undertaken in the final selection. The initial response to requests for financial statements and the subséquent follow ups resulted in a staggering response of 77% over the three member states and from thèse a sample equivalent to approximately 20% was drawn for further analysis. It is to be hoped that with further funding and additional resources, further investigation can be conducted into the remainder of the sample which would be brought up-to-date.

The results of the research indicate positively that the qualitative work must be undertaken first and foremost and that any quantitative work can only be of value if cognisance is taken of the many diverse problems that can, and do arise in accounting practice. These problems are detailed in the research and while not claiming to be exhaustive, they nevertheless provide an imposing array of the multitude of problems that do arise in undertaking either a measurement study or a classification between countries.

This work fills an important gap in the literature and examines an area not covered by previous research. It highlights the underlying problems of quantitative work
and while not attempting to underrate that work, it nevertheless suggests that research of a qualitative nature should not be ignored or undervalued.

The thesis consists of nine chapters together with a number of appendices. The chapters are designed to underpin the base of knowledge of the five accounting practices dealt with in the thesis and to explain the workings of the important bodies who nave played a vital role in accounting harmonisation. Even as the concluding words are written the European Commission is moving ahead with their plan for a more harmonised Europe. They are joined by the International
Accounting Standards Committee who are moving ahead in their plan for a worldwide set of accounting standards.

Chapter 1 introduces the study while Chapter 2 explains why this area of research was undertaken. Chapter 3 examines the literature dealing with both measurement and classification studies. The investigation of the three member states naturally requires an understanding of the workings of the European Union and this is dealt with in Chapter 4 while Chapters 5 and 6 examine the Directives issued and the diversity of accounting practice within the three member states. This is accompanied by a more in-depth discussion on the five accounting practices, which are the subject matter of the work. Chapter 7 takes a deeper look into the accounting practices of France, Germany and the United Kingdom before moving on to Chapter 8 which examines the five topics of deferred taxation, foreign currency translation, goodwill, leases and pensions. This chapter analyses the sample groups of listed companies so as to determine if the original hypothesis was in fact correct. The chapter concludes with a number of lessons to be learnt from each of the five topics. Chapter 9 analyses these lessons and draws a conclusion which is well illustrated by a list of problems that have been deduced from this work.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Thesis submitted to Middlesex University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Research Areas: B. > Theses
A. > Business School > Accounting and Finance
Item ID: 7996
Depositing User: Devika Mohan
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2011 09:15
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2022 02:59
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/7996

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