Financial Accounting without a State*

Michael Power

in Accounting, Organizations, and Institutions

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780199546350
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191720048 | DOI:
Financial Accounting without a State*

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This chapter argues that financial accounting has been frequently mischaracterized as a field of different national practices which have become increasingly and rapidly international in recent years. Rather, accounting norms have evolved over centuries in trans-regional commercial spaces between states, and are more loosely coupled to national ‘cultures’ than is commonly imagined. It is suggested that the rise of so-called ‘national’ level accounting standard setters in the late 20th century marks the origin of self-validating and increasingly autonomous ‘global accounting actors’ of which the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is only one example. Its emergence is largely mis-described as the result of a conflict between ‘national’ and ‘international’ standards, and is better understood as the outcome of a distinctive accounting sub-politics involving small numbers of policy actors operating within and constituting an ‘accounting culture’ which has always been more global than national in character.

Keywords: accounting culture; financial accounting; financialization; IASB; nationhood; transnational actors

Chapter.  7279 words. 

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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