National Adoption of International Accounting Standards: An Institutional Perspective


2137 Constant Hall, Old Dominion University, Management Department, Norfolk, VA, 23529-0011, USA; E-mail:


Manuscript Type: Empirical

Research Question/Issue: Effective corporate governance requires accurate and reliable financial information. Historically, each nation has developed and pursued its own financial standards; however, as financial markets consolidate into a global market, there is a need for a common set of financial standards. As a result, there is a movement towards harmonization of international financial reporting standards (IFRS) throughout the global economy. While there has been considerable research on the effects of IFRS adoption, there has been relatively little systematic study as to the antecedents of IFRS adoption. Consequently, this study seeks to understand why some economies have quickly embraced IFRS standards while others partially adopt IFRS and still others continue to resist.

Research Findings/Results: After controlling for market capitalization and GDP growth, we find that foreign aid, import penetration, and level of education achieved within a national economy are all predictive of the degree to which IFRS standards are adopted across 132 developing, transitional and developed economies.

Theoretical/Academic Implications: We found that all three forms of isomorphic pressures (i.e., coercive, mimetic, and normative) are predictive of IFRS adoption. Consequently, institutional theory with its emphasis on legitimacy-seeking by social actors was relatively well supported by our data. This suggests that the IFRS adoption process is driven more by social legitimization pressures, than it is by economic logic.

Practitioner/Policy Implications: For policy makers, our findings suggest that the institutional pressures within an economy are the key drivers of IFRS adoption. Consequently, policy makers should seek to influence institutional pressures that thwart and/or enhance adoption of IFRS. For executives of multinational firms, our findings provide insights that can help to explain and predict future IFRS adoption within economies where their foreign subsidiaries operate. This ability could be useful for creating competitive advantages for foreign subsidiaries where IFRS adoption was resisted, or avoiding competitive disadvantages for foreign subsidiaries unfamiliar with IFRS standards.