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On the IASB’s construction of legitimacy – the case of the agenda consultation project

Christoph Pelger and Nicole Spieß

Accounting and Business Research, 2017, vol. 47, issue 1, 64-90

Abstract: As an expertise-based private standard-setter, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) needs to work continuously to maintain its position as the uncontested rule-making authority of financial reporting in the international regulatory arena. The present paper analyses how the IASB constructs legitimacy in interaction with its constituents. We focus on the specific case of the IASB’s agenda consultation in 2011/2012 as this project was explicitly introduced by the IASB to promote its legitimacy. We carry out a comprehensive study of the agenda consultation that takes into account all board meetings, comment letters and public board activities. We show that the consultation activities in this project were used by the IASB to pronounce its user (investor) orientation, which, however, might be formal rather than substantial, and to integrate a loyal circle of constituents further. It is also shown that the IASB increasingly tried to portray agenda-setting (and standard-setting) as an objective and evidence-based procedure that resonates with constituents’ demands, although it might in fact enlarge the discretionary leeway of IASB (and staff) members.

Date: 2017
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