本文是会计专业的留学生paper范例，题目是“Influences of Culture on Accounting Standards（文化对会计准则的影响）”,文化对会计等社会机构的影响不可低估。在移民和跨国企业增加之前，文化一直是人类学和考古学的领域。这项工作考虑文化是否影响统一的全球会计实践，以及理解文化在会计中的作用是否有助于理解国际会计准则。这些证明将使用英美和欧洲大陆会计模型(加拿大和法国)作为案例研究的证据。虽然有其他因素(历史、经济、制度、法律体系、税法等)可以影响会计协调，但文化是一个主要障碍。
The impact of culture on the social institutions like accounting cannot be underestimated. Before the increase in immigration and cross-border businesses, culture has been in the domain of anthropology and archaeology. This work considers whether culture affect unified global accounting practices and whether an understanding of cultural role in accounting can help to understand international accounting standards. These prove will be made evidence using the Anglo-American and Euro-Continental accounting models (Canada and France) as case study. Although there are other factors (historical, economic, and institutional, legal system, the tax laws etc) that can affect accounting harmonization, culture is a major obstacle.
SOME DEFINITIONS OF CULTURE文化的一些定义
There is no commonly accepted definition of culture. Violet (1983a) sees culture as a system that encompasses and determines the evolution of social institutions and social phenomena. Perera (1989) regarded culture as an expression of norms, values and customs that reflect typical behavioral characteristics within a defined social grouping. Kuper 1999, (cited in Baskerville, p.2) simply defines it as “a matter of ideas and values, a collective cast of mind”.
文化并没有一个公认的定义。Violet (1983a)认为文化是一个包含并决定社会制度和社会现象演变的系统。Perera(1989)认为文化是一种规范、价值观和习俗的表达，反映了特定社会群体内的典型行为特征。Kuper 1999(引用于《巴斯克维尔》第2页)简单地将其定义为“一个关于想法和价值的问题，一种集体的心态”。
Hofstede 1997 defined culture as “the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another.”He sees cultural differences at four different levels – symbols, heroes, rituals, and values.
From the definitions, it shows that culture is shared among individuals belonging to a group or society, formed over a relatively long period and relatively stable.
In accounting context Askary, Saeed (p.2) defined culture as those environmental factors that strongly impact national accounting systems – a likely causal factor of different national accounting practices in accord with differing national cultures.
It is a near impossibility to discuss culture without mentioning Hofstede. He conducted the most comprehensive study of how workplace values are influenced by culture from 1967 to 1973, while working at IBM as a psychologist. He analyzed data from over 100,000 individuals from 40 countries. In 1980 he identified four distinct contrasting sets of dimensions of culture which has enjoyed considerable attention. They are: (1) Power distance, showing measure of interpersonal power between people, (2) Individualism versus collectivism showing measure of personal autonomy between individuals and collectives, (3) uncertainty avoidance showing anxiety level of society members towards the future and (4) Masculinity-allocation of roles between sexes. In 2007, he added a fifth dimension that is not too relevant for our study which is Long-Term Orientation – LTO; which is associated with perseverance. His study was seen as a catalyst in international accounting research which later accounting researchers like Gray 1988, Perera 1989, Wuthnow 1994 adopted into accounting context. According to Sudarwan and Fogarty (1996, p.2), his work has been cited in 583studies from 1981-1992 and this justifies its use in accounting research.
谈dissertation化几乎不可能不提到霍夫斯泰德。1967年至1973年期间，他在IBM担任心理学家，对职场价值观如何受到文化影响进行了最全面的研究。他分析了来自40个国家的10万多人的数据。1980年，他确定了文化的四种截然不同的维度，这些维度受到了相当大的关注。(1)权力距离，表现人与人之间的人际权力;(2)个人主义与集体主义，表现个人与集体之间的个人自主;(3)不确定性回避，表现社会成员对未来的焦虑程度;(4)男性化——性别之间角色的分配。在2007年，他增加了第五个维度这个维度与我们的研究不太相关那就是长期导向，简称LTO;这与毅力有关。他的研究被视为国际会计研究的催化剂，后来会计研究人员如Gray 1988, Perera 1989, Wuthnow 1994采用会计背景。根据Sudarwan和Fogarty (1996, p.2)，他的工作在1981-1992年的583个研究中被引用，这证明了它在会计研究中的使用是合理的。
Gray (1988) developed significant accounting hypotheses using cultural values as developed by Hofstede to establish relationship to accounting values. He addressed cultural influence on accounting of different countries from the distinct societal values perspective. He identified the possibility of significantly relating accounting values, at the level of the accounting subculture, to societal values, by giving the following ‘accounting’ values for consideration;
Professionalism; meaning preference on individual professional judgment and self regulation as opposed to prescriptive legal requirements and statutory control. It linked Hofstede’s high individualism, weak uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, given the concept of assertiveness, and small power distance.
Uniformity; He shows preference for uniform accounting practices between companies as against flexibility of unique circumstance of a company. It reflects societies with high uncertainty-avoidance and large power-distance indexes of Hofstede.
Conservatism: Here there is preference for caution to measurement, as it helps one to cope with future uncertainty. It contrasts with a “more optimistic, risk taking approach”. This links high uncertainty-avoidance, individualism, and masculinity dimensions by Hofstede.
Secrecy; Here information is shared amongst the close managers and financiers as against more open, transparent, publicly accountable approach. This is associated with societies that have strong uncertainty-avoidance and power-distance dimensions.
Chua 1988 (cited in Askary p.5) like Gray said that “Values and beliefs play a fundamental role in the constitution of accounting knowledgeâ€¦.”therefore, culture and accounting are inextricably linked.
Perera 1989 (cited by Askary p.6) sees two associated ways of analyzing the cultural influences on accounting practices: determining a set of specific societal values/cultural factors likely to be directly linked with accounting practice and verification of any association between societal values and specific accounting practices. To him accounting practices/systems of different countries are influenced by their cultural values that, in turn, shape their accounting practices.
Applicability of Hofstede’s framework has been questioned in accounting context. Critics see his cultural dimension in accounting research as causing misleading dependence on cultural indices. Gernon and Wallace 1995 (cited in Ding Y., Jeanjean T., & Stolowy H.p.9) described his cultural studies in international accounting research as “trapped by a paradigm myopia by its reliance on the framework suggested by Hofstede” partly because his survey was of one organization therefore do not provide reliable information on the cultural values of an entire nation. Baskerville 2003(cited in Ding Y., Jeanjean T., & Stolowy H.p.9) also criticizes him for equating culture with nation. From the Encyclopedia of World Cultures O’Leary & Levinson, 1991 (cited in Baskerville 2002) identified that in the Middle East the Human Relations Area Files identify 35 different cultures in 14 nations.
Gray’s indices are also criticized. Willett et al. 1997 (cited in Chanchani & Willett, 2004)while criticizing Gray identifies culture as most clearly affecting those parts of the accounting environment that are essentially social and also stated that culture influences disclosure practices more than measurement practices.
Despite these criticisms, the models have some uses. According to Ding et al. (2005), Hofstede’s model, though strongly criticized, is still widely used because of its extensive international coverage, and robust results have been generated. His result is still used to explain national diversities in accounting though the research sample was designed and selected to avoid diversity. Chanchani & Willett (2004) noted that Gray’s theory continues to be referred to in on-going research, and a number of recent studies have related accounting judgement on various matters to cultural influences.
尽管有这些批评，这些模型还是有一些用处的。Ding et al.(2005)认为，Hofstede的模型虽然受到了强烈的批评，但由于其广泛的国际覆盖面，仍然得到了广泛的应用，并产生了稳健的结果。虽然为了避免多样性而设计和选择了研究样本，但他的结果仍然被用于解释会计中的国家多样性。Chanchani & Willett(2004)指出，Gray的理论在正在进行的研究中继续被引用，最近的一些研究将不同事项的会计判断与文化影响联系起来。
Hofstede/Gray’s analysis have attempted to understand the differences in national accounting standards from cultural background view-point, and has been useful in establishing a link between accounting and cultures. Analyses here further buttress the argument that culture plays a major role in shaping a country’s accounting standards.
CULTURAL INFLUENCE AND ACCOUNTING HARMONIZATION文化影响与会计协调
Cultural influence in accounting environments has been a subject in accounting research and has been examined by many scholars: (Violet (1983), Belkaoui (1990, 1996 & 1997), and Doupnik and Salter (1995); Harrison and Mckinnon (1986), Belkaoui; and Culture and international accounting systems by Gray (1988), Perera (1989)and Fechner and Kilgore (1994) (all cited by Askary pp.2-3). They mostly established a prime facie case that culture influences accounting practices.
会计环境中的文化影响一直是会计研究的一个主题，并已被许多学者研究:(Violet (1983)， Belkaoui(1990, 1996和1997)，以及Doupnik和Salter (1995);哈里森和麦金农(1986)，Belkaoui;以及Gray(1988)、Perera(1989)和Fechner and Kilgore(1994)的《文化与国际会计系统》(askarary第2-3页引用)。他们大多建立了文化影响会计实践的主要证据案例。
Accordingly, Perera 1989 (cited by Askary p.2) sees each accounting system as a product of its specific environment. Mueller, Gernon and Meek 1994 (cited by Askary p.2) also noted, “Accounting is shaped by the environment in which it operates”. Even in reporting practice, Radebaugh and Gray (1997) through a comparative study concluded that each country reporting practice is influenced by culture despite existence of standard.
Jaggi 1975 (cited by Askary p.3) appreciated that the cultural environment was an independent variable that could influence financial disclosure practices in response to value orientations. Violet 1983a (cited by Askary p.3) perceived accounting as a product “. . . of its culture”.
Gambling and Abdel-Karim 1986 (cited by Askary p.3) reasoned that:
. . . accounting theory is part of the personality and hence part of the culture. If the individuals are Muslims, their personalities are Islamic and their culture is Islamic.
Therefore, their accounting theory is Islamic.
From the foregoing, one can conveniently say that accounting theory and practices is a product of individuals who are influenced by their beliefs.
Some cultural factors that influence accounting include language, religion, morals, values, attitudes, law, education, politics, social organization and technology. The question now is how do culture influence accounting? One cannot underestimate the power of culture. Beliefs most times guide what you do and accounting is not an exception. Moral judgment, value system, attitude towards anything, legal system, Religion or even educational background are powerful forces underlying behaviours. It is therefore not questionable that the above factors shapes accounting value, therefore impacts the accounting environment internationally. A good example is Islamic culture that does not encourage borrowing as against western culture that is anchored on borrowing.
This cultural influence has proved to have made accounting harmonization difficult. A major harmonization attempt is the setting up of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), under the oversight of the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC) through an agreement made by professional accountancy bodies from developed countries. Its objective is to develop a set of global accounting standards that require high quality, transparency, and comparability of financial statements of different countries (iasplus 2007). But its efforts have been frustrated by constraints like culture, education, taxation, political climate, and economic development of many countries.
Comparison of Canada and France accounting models加拿大和法国会计模式的比较
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions’ as applied in accounting by Gray (1988) will be used to classify Canada and France. Canada and France utilize different accounting systems and operate within socio-economic environments which have many distinguishing features that may influence accounting.
Gray(1988)在会计中应用了Hofstede ' s cultural dimensions '来对加拿大和法国进行分类。加拿大和法国使用不同的会计制度，并在社会经济环境中运作，这些环境具有许多可能影响会计的显著特征。
Canada has Anglo-American accounting and auditing tradition therefore flexibility and professionalism prevails. Her system and values safeguards shareholder interests. In contrast, French accounting system as in most Continental European countries relies upon the “Plan Comptable” and codified rules that satisfy stakeholders’ information needs and it is characterized by values of uniformity and statutory control (Gray, 1988).
Canada and France accepted International Accounting Standards (IAS, called International Financial Reporting Standards, IFRS) since 2001 but Gray and Street 2001(cited by Othman H. B and Zeghal. D 2006) still find differences between them in terms of IAS/IFRS implementation. Leuz, and Wysocki 2000 (cited by Othman H. B and Zeghal D. 2006) argue that it is because “IASC standards possess no enforcement rules and rely on local auditors and country-specific legal remedies to enforce standards.
加拿大和法国自2001年以来接受了国际会计准则(IAS，又称国际财务报告准则，IFRS)，但在2001年接受了Gray and Street准则(由Othman H. B和Zeghal引用)。D 2006)仍然发现它们之间的差异在国际会计准则/国际财务报告准则的实施。Leuz和Wysocki 2000 (Othman H. B和Zeghal D. 2006引用)认为，这是因为“IASC标准没有执行规则，而是依赖于当地审计师和特定国家的法律救济来执行标准。”
Applying Gray’s four accounting values as discussed above, Canada is viewed to have higher professionalism, flexibility, optimism and transparency which have shaped the finance mode and shareholder corporate-governance model. There is also lack of interaction between financial reporting because of its high individualism, low uncertainty-avoidance and power-distance index. France has higher statutory control, uniformity, conservatism, and high uncertainty avoidance which in contrast show strong government influence in accounting regulation. France has a stakeholder corporate-governance model, which is dominated by banks, government, or families.
Canada has a common-law accounting system which includes the accounting standards used to prepare financial information. The provincial and federal law left the regulation of accounting standards to the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA). There is no uniform plan of accounts; rather standards evolve by becoming commonly accepted in practice, but with a considerable degree of uniformity which the CICA regulates. Accordingly, accounting and tax rules are kept separate. Financial reports are drawn up according to accounting standards.
In France, “Plan comptable general” which Governmental imposed on accounting have strongly influenced accounting practices (Perera, 1989). This Accounting Plan is typically prescriptive, detailed, and procedural. Financial accounting is very much a public-sector activity, administered by governmental (or quasi-governmental) bodies.
This paper has looked at how culture influences the accounting standards and sees that culture indeed shapes the accounting standards of any particular country. Many countries place great emphasis on their own accounting standards, because of the societal values and norms on which these standards have been designed. The definition of culture and how it affects national/international accounting standards were provided, citing the analyses of Hofstede and Gray. Our analyses using Canada and France as sample countries establish the much ignored link between culture and accounting. The paper also looked at international accounting harmonization efforts of the IASB, and how culture has affected its goals. Although there are other factors affecting national accounting standards, culture indeed plays a pivotal role in determining national accounting standards. With the analyses, it is hoped that culture and accounting will be considered side-by-side when decisions are being made globally.
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