'Shopping Around' for Accounting Practices: the Financial Statement Presentation of French Groups


Academy of Management Executive

February 2003, vol. 39, n°1, pp.42-65

Departments: Accounting & Management Control, GREGHEC (CNRS), Economics & Decision Sciences

This article illustrates the progressive move away from traditional accounting practices through a study of the presentation of financial statements. Based on a sample of one hundred large French industrial and commercial groups over a ten-year period, and applying a logistic regression method, our survey confirms a trend among French companies, which are increasingly turning their backs on traditional national practices as regards the balance sheet format, the income statement format, the voluntary disclosure of a statement of changes in shareholders' equity and the cash flow statement format. This move towards 'alternative' practices is made possible by the flexibility of French regulation, and can probably be explained by the desire of French firms to attract more investment on international capital markets. However, this trend shows no signs of a clear orientation towards any particular accounting model (IAS, U.S. or U.K.). The behaviour of the French firms observed in our study can be considered as a kind of 'shopping around' for accounting