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National Adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards : The case of China


  • Maria Bengtsson

Summary, in English

In the past few decades, there has been a global trend of international harmonization of accounting standards, with many countries having either partially or completely replaced their national accounting standards with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The intended goal is to remove the barriers that hinder investors when comparing accounting information of companies from different nations, while simultaneously reducing the transaction costs for firms. However, research has shown that countries adopt IFRS unequally, ranging from resistance, partial adoption to full adoption. If the IFRS are not adopted to the same extent around the world, the central purpose of international standards can be compromised, as foreign investors cannot be confident when comparing financial statements. Uneven IFRS adoption could even be harmful to investors who believe that accounting standards have been converged worldwide—when, in fact, financial reporting differences continue to exist across national borders while being covered under the façade of the IFRS.

Using China as the case country, this thesis aims to conduct an analysis on the causes of different degrees of IFRS adoption at the national level and to examine how and why such causes affect accounting standard-setters’ strategies in the era of international accounting harmonization. To build a holistic view within the complex empirical phenomenon of simultaneous convergence with and resistance to the IFRS, this thesis draws on the influence of neo-institutional theory while integrating the approach from international accounting classification. It puts forward the viewpoint that, in order to comprehend the coexistence of diversified acceptance levels of IFRS, it is necessary to understand the dynamics of the institutional variables that underlie the responses deployed by accounting standard-setters when deciding whether a set of exogenously developed accounting standards can really fit into their domestic institutional settings.

The research relies on extensive archival documents. The findings show that the factors influencing China’s current convergence status with the IFRS are multifaceted, fluid, and interrelated. The Chinese accounting standard-setters’ reaction to the pressure of international accounting harmonization is a strategic response that follows China’s national ideology. Furthermore, IFRS convergence in the case of China reflects a cooperation and mutual dependence between the external institutional norm and the adopting organization, rather than a one-sided pressure. The Chinese experience also reveals that the economic incentives embedded in the technical attributes of the IFRS contributed to IFRS acceptance in China.

Publishing year






Document type



School of Economics and Management, Lund University


  • Business Administration


  • IFRS
  • Adoption
  • National
  • Policy
  • Accounting




  • Gert Paulsson


  • ISBN: 978-91-7895-903-7
  • ISBN: 978-91-7895-904-4

Defence date

2 December 2021

Defence time


Defence place



  • Anna Stafsudd (Associate Professor)