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    Waves of Global Standardization: Small Practitioners’ R...
    research summary posted June 15, 2016 by Jennifer M Mueller-Phillips, tagged 01.0 Standard Setting, 01.03 Impact of New Accounting Pronouncements 
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    Title:
    Waves of Global Standardization: Small Practitioners’ Resilience and Intra-Professional Fragmentation within the Accounting Profession
    Practical Implications:

     At the empirical level, this analysis brings the impact of global standardization on local communities of small accounting practitioners to the fore. The authors have found that accounting and auditing research has neglected both small practitioners and the impact of resilience in accounting and auditing research. At the theoretical level, this paper is the first to mobilize the notion of resilience in accounting and auditing research. It is the hope of the authors that this study will lead to a qualitative study of the formation of small practitioners’ habitus – how they are socialized in taking up the role of docile actors who tend to be obedient to their profession’s formal authorities, highly skilled in technical thinking, and not too demanding in terms of requiring justifications.

    Citation:

    Durocher, S., Y. Gendron, and C. Picard. 2016. Waves of Global Standardization: Small Practitioners’ Resilience and Intra-Professional Fragmentation within the Accounting Profession. Auditing: A journal of Practice and Theory 35 (1): 65-88. 

    Keywords:
    globalization, intra-professional fragmentation, professional resilience, small practitioners, and standardization
    Purpose of the Study:

    As the forces of globalization prompt more and more countries to open their doors to foreign investment and as businesses themselves expand across borders, both the public and private sectors are increasingly recognizing the benefits of having a commonly understood financial reporting framework supported by strong globally accepted auditing standards.  These processes of globalization may seem beneficial and unproblematic from the view point of the standard setters, but that is not necessarily the case if one considers the small practitioners’ view point.  Despite being the majority of all practicing accountants, small practitioners often do not have the time or ability to send representatives to work in the administration of professional bodies or on special projects that inevitably set the standards of the profession.  These facts led the authors to their primary objective in writing this article.  The primary objective of this study is to examine how small practitioners, in the field of accountancy, perceive and react to the global standardization agenda.  This study also examines how globalization discourses are constructed and rendered practical in localities.  

    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The authors conducted 25 semi-structured interviews with 31 participants between December 2009 and July 2011. To generate variation, practitioners having up to 39 years of experience working in firms of various sizes were interviewed. 

    Findings:
    • Small practitioners almost unanimously believe that professional standards excessively reflect the context of large public companies audited by large accounting firms.
    • Small practitioners believe that most users of financial statements do not use or understand many footnote disclosures.
    • Many practitioners complain about having to fill out many irrelevant checklists and admit to their clients that useless information must be included in the clients’ financial statements.
    • One of the authors’ key findings is global standardization intensifying the extent of fragmentation within the accountancy community.
    • The authors find that, at the field level, global standards exacerbate the cleavage between large and small accounting firms.
    Category:
    Standard Setting
    Sub-category:
    Impact of New Accounting Pronouncements