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Voluntary adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards by large unlisted companies in Portugal: institutional logics and strategic responses

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  • M. Guerreiro
  • L. Rodrigues
  • Russell Craig
Common explanations for the voluntary adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) have been based on economic efficiency arguments. This paper introduces new theoretical arguments to explain how institutional pressures influence decisions to adopt IFRS voluntarily. Through recourse to an institutional theory context, we combine the analytical framework proposed by Oliver (1991) with the concept of institutional logics, and apply this framework to the financial accounting field for the first time. This combined model shows how multiple forms of rationality constrain company responses to pressures to adopt a new accounting regime. We find that companies in a code law country are willing to change from a code-law institutional logic to a common-law institutional logic if they consider such a change will have positive overall benefits to them. Companies assess the net benefits of change after considering the legitimacy they achieve with IFRS, the consistency of IFRS with their goals and institutional context, and the loss of autonomy they believe they are likely to sustain from adopting IFRS. Contrary to predictions in earlier formulations of institutional theory, we find that the acquiescence of companies in adopting IFRS is not a blind response to institutional demands, but is largely predictable by virtue of the inherent nature and importance of such institutional pressures to them. Prevailing institutional logics are shown to provide important insights to the decisions of companies to adopt IFRS voluntarily. We draw on our results to contend that a company’s acquiescence to institutional pressures to adopt IFRS occurs notwithstanding that they can also contemplate more active strategies (through decoupling).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)482-499
JournalAccounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

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