Implementation of IPSAS in Europe: Local Reactions to Global Accounting Standards as a Challenge to Comparability

Tobias Polzer, Giuseppe Grossi, Christoph Reichard

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOral presentationpeer-review


The introduction of accruals accounting has been argued a central aspect of New Public Management (NPM) reforms. As part of this reform movement, many governments have implemented the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) for financial reporting. The IPSAS are a calculative practice and have been claimed to enable comparison of reporting between adopters. However, as the IPSAS are recommendations, governments that are confronted with the decision to implement IPSAS face a trade-off between full adoption, adaptation to domestic specifics, selection (i.e., omission of certain standards), and non-adoption. Drawing on the literature on standard setting as a sub-field of new institutional theory, this paper analyses the rationales that have been brought forward by central governments in eight European countries for deviations from implementing ‘fully-fledged’ IPSAS. The results show great diversity in the implementation of the standards; moreover, countries bring a plethora of reasons to the front for their decision not to implement certain standards and/or to adapt other standards. As a consequence, comparability as a central feature of calculative practices is undermined. Implications for theory and practice are out-lined.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2019-May

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Economics and Business (502)


  • Global standards
  • europe
  • Standardization
  • institutional theory


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