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Vorsichtige Rechnungslegung — Theoretische Erklärung und empirische Evidenz —

Accounting conservatism — Theoretical foundations and empirical evidence

Zusammenfassung

Vorsichtige Rechnungslegung (accounting conservatism) ist nicht allein Folge vorsichtiger Rechnungslegungsnormen. Vielmehr führen ökonomische Anreize der Rechnungslegungsakteure in unterschiedlichem Ausmaß zu vorsichtigem Rechnungslegungsverhalten. Es gibt also Nachfrage nach accounting conservatism. Diese wirkt als normative Rechtfertigung auf die Entwicklung der Rechnungslegungsnormen zurück (Watts, 2006). In diesem Beitrag diskutieren wir ökonomische Motive für vorsichtige Rechnungslegung und zeigen deren empirische Evidenz in Rechnungslegungsnormen und -verhalten auf. Dabei wird hinsichtlich der Ereignisabhängigkeit der bilanziellen Vorsicht zwischen conditional und unconditional conservatism unterschieden, wobei eine trennscharfe theoretische Zuordnung von Rechnungslegungsregeln problembehaftet ist und eine separate empirische Messung der beiden Phänomene bislang nicht in befriedigender Weise gelungen ist. Da vorsichtige Rechnungslegungspraxis relativ unabhängig von Rechnungslegungsnormen existieren kann, verwundert es nicht, dass die vermeintlich vorsichtigen deutschen GoB im internationalen Vergleich nicht automatisch zum (conditional) vorsichtigsten Rechnungslegungsverhalten führen. Vor diesem Hintergrund ist fraglich, ob IASB und FASB in dem geplanten neuen Rahmenkonzept vorsichtige Rechnungslegung an ökonomischen Effizienzerwägungen vorbei abschaffen sollten. Watts (2003a, S. 210; 2006) fordert die Standardsetter zu Recht auf, ihre ablehnende Haltung gegenüber vorsichtiger Rechnungslegung zu überdenken, da sie wichtige ökonomische Funktionen erfülle, die noch nicht abschließend erforscht seien.

Summary

Accounting conservatism has received considerable attention in the literature over the past ten years. Contrary to a commonly held notion, conservative practice need not stem from conservative rules alone. Because financial statement users demand different degrees of accounting conservatism, conservative practice reflects managers’ economic incentives. Economic demand for conservative accounting also influences standard setters’ decisions in the rule-making process, shaping the development of accounting regulation over the long term (Watts, 2006). We discuss economic explanations for accounting conservatism and provide empirical evidence of conservative rules and behavior. Depending on the degree to which accounting reflects specific events, the conditional and unconditional types of conservatism are distinguished. It should be noted, however, that a clear distinction between the two types remains an unresolved challenge from both the theoretical and empirical standpoints. Since conservative accounting practice may be observed even where rules are not particularly conservative, it is not surprising that accounting practice induced by the allegedly conservative German system does not rank among the most (conditionally) conservative internationally. Accounting conservatism as an efficient component of corporate governance is not yet fully understood. These considerations cast doubt, expressed by Watts (2003a, S. 210; 2006), on the effectiveness of plans voiced by the IASB and the FASB to eliminate the conservatism principle from their new conceptual framework.

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Correspondence to Rolf Uwe Fülbier, Joachim Gassen or Thorsten Sellhorn.

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Fülbier, R.U., Gassen, J. & Sellhorn, T. Vorsichtige Rechnungslegung — Theoretische Erklärung und empirische Evidenz —. Z. Betriebswirtsch 78, 1317–1342 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11573-008-0118-8

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Keywords

  • Accounting
  • conservatism
  • economic incentives
  • empirical evidence
  • IFRS
  • conceptual framework

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  • M41