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Business and Politics

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Volume 16, Issue 1 (Apr 2014)


The impact of meta-standardization upon standards convergence: the case of the international accounting standard for off-balance-sheet financing

Matthias Thiemann
Published Online: 2013-12-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bap-2012-0011


Analyses of transnational governance formation point to the destabilizing effects transnational standard setters have upon national institutional configurations. Isomorphic pressures, it is argued, lead to the standardization of procedures used and actors involved in standard setting processes. What is not clear, however, is to what extent this meta-standardization increases the chances for convergence of national with transnational standards. This article explores this question for the case of the international accounting standard for off-balance-sheet financing in the Netherlands, France and Germany. It argues that the reconfiguration of domestic governance architectures had a decisive impact on convergence processes. Counter-intuitively, copying goals, membership and procedures of the transnational, private International Accounting Standards Committee limited the chances of rule convergence, as it threatened to deinstitutionalize the standard-setting role of an important national champion of rule-convergence, the banking regulator. The institutional template developed at the transnational level created actor-mismatch at the national level between those formulating and those implementing the rules, thereby weakening the coalition for rule change. A strong coalition, however, is needed to overcome vested business interests that favor convergence with transnational templates for legitimacy gains at the same time that they oppose convergence to contentious rules that limit their business activities.


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About the article

Corresponding author: Matthias Thiemann, Goethe Universitaet Frankfurt, Grueneburgplatz 1, 60323 Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Tel.: +496979836676, e-mail:

Published Online: 2013-12-05

Published in Print: 2014-04-01

Fuchs and Kalfagianni (2010); Green (2010).

Büthe and Mattli (2011).

Focal refers to the holding uncontested authority on the transnational level. Büthe (2010b) analyzes the stages and mechanisms of how a transnational standard setter reaches such a focal position.

Biener (2000); Büthe and Mattli (2011: p. 12f).

Baker and Barbu (2007: p. 607); Botzem (2012: p. 122); Chantiri-Chaudemanche (2009: p. 1118); Colasse and Pochet (2009: p. 50).

Clift and Woll (2012).

Büthe (2010a: p. 5); Mosley (2010).

Hall and Thelen (2009).

Büthe (2010b); Büthe and Mattli (2011: p. 137).

Green (2010).

Martinez-Diaz (2005); Noelke (2005); Botzem and Quack (2006); Büthe and Mattli (2011).

Up until 2001 the body issued International Accounting Standards (hereafter IAS), since 2001 its standards are called the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Posner 2010 gives a good description of the ascendance of the IASB.

Zimmermann, Werner, and Volmer (2008) similarly study the changing role of the state in accounting governance due to globalization in the US, UK and Germany, but they do not focus in particular on the transnational challenge the IASB is posing.

Botzem (2012); Botzem and Dobusch (2012).

Timmermans and Epstein (2010: p. 75).

It is notable that the favourable comparison of SIC 12 to American standards for off-balance-sheet financing increased the reputation of the IAS (Eaton 2005).

Acharya, Schnabl, and Suarez (2009); Gorton (2010).

Abbreviated as ANIME, Abbott and Snidal (2009: p. 46).

A related analysis concerning the adoption of transnational financial standards is Mosley (2010).

Stigler (1971); Peltzman (1976).

Mattli and Woods (2009: p. 17).

Abbott and Snidal (2009: p. 63f).

Halliday and Carruthers (2007: p. 1154).

Ibid., p. 1173.

Malets (2013: p. 320).

Mosley (2010: p. 754).

Djelic and Quack (2008: p. 317f), for the case of accounting, s. Noelke and Perry (2007).

Cf. Hall and Soskice (2001).

Djelic and Quack (2007: p. 162), also Morgan (2005: p. 441).

Djelic and Quack (2007: p. 162).

Abbott and Snidal (2009: p. 70).

Jepperson (1991: p. 145) quoted in Djelic and Quack (2003).

Mayntz (2009: p. 80f).

Djelic and Quack (2011: 89f); Ramirez (2010).

DiMaggio and Powell (1983).

Büthe and Mattli (2011: p. 12f).

Ibid., 167.

Cooper and Robson (2006: p. 416).

Also Botzem and Dobusch (2012).

Cooper and Robson (2006: p. 425).

For the case of global law, s. Halliday (2009: p. 277); Halliday and Carruthers (2007: p. 1152).

Abbott and Snidal (2009: p. 46), for the implementation of global norms in local contexts, Mosley (2010: p. 725f).

Baker and Barbu (2007: p. 607); Chantiri-Chaudemanche (2009: p. 1118); Colasse and Pochet (2009: p. 50); Botzem (2012: p. 122).

Such as the EU directives on accounting and the decision to make IAS the European accounting standards.

The inadequacy of French and German accounting standards was acknowledged in 1998 by granting an option for large conglomerates to exclusively apply US GAAP or IAS for their consolidated financial statements (Camfermann and Zeff 2007: p. 314).

Numbers add up to 59 rather than 53, because some interviewees held several functions, e.g., member of auditors’ association and external auditors.

Skocpol and Somers (1980); Ebbinghaus (2005: p. 141); George and Bennett (2005: p. 91).

Fiss (2009: p. 425); Harvey (2009).

Van Hulle (1993); European Commission (1995).

Daimler’s switch to US GAAP in 1993 is seen as a major event in this respect, s. Camfermann and Zeff (2007: p. 314).


Ibid., p. 329.

EC (1995: p. 6f).

s. European Commission (1999, 2000); European Parliament (2002).

Camfermann and Zeff (2007: p. 314).

Benston et al. (2006).

Biener (2000); Hoarau (2010).

Botzem (2012: p. 28).

Ibid., p. 29.

Botzem (2012: p. 29f).

Botzem and Quack (2009); critical Burlaud and Colasse (2010).

Colasse and Pochet (2009: p. 34f).

Botzem (2012: p. 117ff).

Botzem and Quack (2009: p. 994); Richardson and Eberlein (2011: p. 224f).

Walton (2008).

Chantiri-Chaudemanche and Pochet (2012: p. 152).

IASC (1989).

Tamm-Hallstroem (2004).

Martinez-Diaz (2005: p. 20).

Colasse and Pochet (2009).

Inter alia Mattli and Büthe (2005: p. 255).

Zeff, Van der Wel, and Camfferman (2002).

Ballwieser (2010); Bocqueraz (2010).

In 2011, the IASB issued the IFRS 10, which fuses IAS 27 and SIC 12. It generalized the economic substance approach to control which SIC 12 introduced for special purpose entities to all subsidiaries, available at: http://www.focusifrs.com/menu_gauche/normes_et_interpretations/textes_des_normes_et_interpretations/ifrs_10_etats_financiers_consolides, last accessed 07.11.2013.

Strasser and Blumberg (2011).

Acharya and Schnabl (2009).

Black (2008: p. 26).

Interview member IASB, 22 February 2011.

Larsson (2008).

European Securitization Forum (2002); Jeffrey (2002).

Acharya and Schnabl (2009); Hellwig (2010).

See Choi and Meek (2005: p. 85).

See Camfermann and Zeff (2007: p. 414).

Interview Dutch regulatory advisor, 06 October 2011.

Consultation also included the general accounting standards setter (interview former president accounting standard setting body, 16 August 2011).

Interview former president of the Dutch auditors’ association, 08 March 2012.

Ibid., 16 August 2011.

Ibid., 16 August 2011.


Interview Dutch Auditor’s Association, 05 July 2011.

Interview former leading standard setter in the Netherlands, 16 August 2011.

Interview member of the Dutch auditors association, 05 July 2011.

See Guidelines for Annual Reporting 2001, Chapter 2.14 Article 203 and 203c.

Interview auditors association 05 July 2011.

Interview bank manager in Netherlands, 06 December 2011.

See Hoarau (2010: p. 312), who emphasizes the great variety of interests and collegial deliberation.

Interview CNC member, 27 November 2011, interview member of Order of French Accountants 21 March 2011.

See Hoarau (2010: p. 316).

This committee was called “Comité de la Règlementation Bancaire et Financière.”


Interview members of the Order of French Accountants, 21 March 2011.


Interview a member of the CNC working group for banks, 22 March 2011.

Interview banking manager and member sub-committee, 25 March 2011; interview with two officials of the CNC, 02 April 2011, interview high functionary of CNC, 02 June 2011.

Interview French banking regulator, 06 February 2011.

CRC refers to the comité de la règlementation comptable which transposed proposals by the CNC into law. The full text of the CRC 99-02 is available at: http://www.articles.exafi.com/compta/ComptaTextes/CRC99-02.htm, last accessed 07.11.2013.

Interview CNC member, 21 January 2012.

Interview auditor big four Paris, former member of the CNC working group for banks, 22 March 2011.

7th EU Directive, Article 1.c., available at: http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/internal_market/businesses/company_law/l26010_en.htm, last accessed 07.11.2013.

Interview CNC member and with former employee of the banking regulator, 30 January 2011.

Loi n° 2003-706 de sécurité financière, available at: http://www.assetrecovery.org/kc/node/2cb8acd0-a34a-11dc-bf1b-335d0754ba85.0;jsessionid=4B6D2DB9CC618947BD24825FD304DEC0, last accessed 07.11.2013.

Interview German accounting professor, 30 June 2011.

McLeay, Dieter, and Young (2000).

In the realm of consolidated financial statements, the German auditors association (IDW) informally filled this void by providing statements on questions of accounting (called HFA RS).

Camfermann and Zeff (2007: p. 314).

The different option were enshrined in § 342a and § 342b of the German Commercial Code.

Interview German financial regulator, 01 July 2011, and interview board member German auditors association, 03 May 2011.

See Camfermann and Zeff (2007: p. 14).

Benston et al. (2006: p. 130).

At the time of its founding, there were expectations of a large scale reform to converge the rules for consolidated final statements upon IAS, if possible until 2002 (see Biener 2000: p. 63).

Interview official of the ministry of justice, 4 May 2011.

Interview auditor and member of DRSC, 21 February 2011; interview with IDW officials, 14 April 2011; interview with IDW board member, 03 May 2011.

See E-DRS 16. Available at: http://www.drsc.de/docs/drafts/16.html, last accessed 07.11.2013.

Interview board member of the German standard setting body, 11 December 2010.

The german text can be found at http://www.standardsetter.de/drsc/docs/comments/016/bakred.html.

Interview German financial regulator, 01 July 2011.

This orientation was supported by overlap in staff, most prominently the current president of the DRSC, who was the technical director at the IASC from 1995 to 1999.

Interview member DRSC, 06 December 2010.

Interview auditor involved in the reform process, 30 May 2011. A banking manager from a private bank also pointed to public banks as the main lobbying force (interview, 12 July 2011).


Djelic (1998: p. 224).

Hall and Thelen (2009: p. 18).

Meyer and Rowan (1977).

Streeck and Thelen (2005).

Büthe (2010b); Büthe and Mattli (2011: p. 137).

Green (2010).

Mosley (2010: p. 741).

Citation Information: Business and Politics, ISSN (Online) 1469-3569, ISSN (Print) 1369-5258, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bap-2012-0011.

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