The impact of firms' internationalization on financial statement presentation: Some French evidence


Advances in Accounting, incorporating Advances in International Accounting

June 2008, vol. 24, n°1, pp.145-156

Departments: Accounting & Management Control, GREGHEC (CNRS)

Historically, the format of financial statements has varied from one country to another. Recently, due to the attractiveness of their capital markets, the strength of their accounting professions and the influence of their institutional investors, Anglo-American countries have seen a steady increase in the impact of their accounting practices on other nations, even influencing the actual format of financial statements. Given that French accounting regulations allow a certain degree of choice in consolidated balance sheet format (‘by nature’ or ‘by term’) and income statement format (‘by nature’ or ‘by function’), this study examines a sample of 199 large French listed firms in an attempt to understand why some of these firms choose not to use the traditional French formats (‘by nature’ for the balance sheet and ‘by nature’ for the income statement), instead preferring Anglo-American practices that we call ‘alternative’ (‘by term’ format for the balance sheet and ‘by function’ format for the income statement). We first analyze the balance sheet and income statement formats separately using a logit model, then combine the two and enrich the research design with a generalized ordered logit model. Our results confirm that opting for one or two alternative formats is related to internationalization, influenced by several factors: size, international auditor, accounting standards, foreign listing and international sales. When distinguishing the decision to adopt at least one versus two alternative-format financial statements, our findings also provide evidence that not all variables play the same role: ‘Accounting standards’ and ‘Foreign listing’, which are important in explaining the use of at least one alternative format, are irrelevant in explaining the use of two alternative-format financial statements