Treatment Differences in US / International Accounting

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4 Responses

  1. Anon says:

    Lawrence, your paper shows an amazing lack of research into, and appreciation for, the accounting literature on this topic. Indeed, this topic has been at the core of accounting research for a long time now. The accounting papers that you do cite are old, and the debate has moved beyond your argument in the accounting literature (i.e. it does not add anything to the existing debate).

    It is exasperating that legal academics consistently believe that they are creating something that another discipline has been toiling away at for a long time – certainly legal academics can add a different perspective to the debate, but it is frustrating to see legal scholars claim to be creating the wheel when another discipline has been moving that wheel along for a very long time. While it is fantastic that this debate has now been moved into the legal arena, the argument is not new, and it has been done before – your point was made many years ago in the accounting literature.

  2. Lawrence Cunningham says:


    Please do mention the most obvious and directly on point citations to which you refer. Thanks!


  3. Anon says:

    Lawrence – while I am not prepared to either (a) do the relevant research for you or (b) open this into a “but I can distinguish my paper” debate (btw, you cannot), I suggest you read some of the work of Barth (with coauthors) and Leuz (with coauthors) for a start, and go from there. The real concern is that your first cite of accounting research, at fn30, was Basu’s famous conservatism paper, which is hardly prime research on accounting standards.

    My goal in pointing this out is not to be vindictive in any way, but to stress that there is a world of research out there that legal scholars so often ignore, and this paper is a prime example of that.

  4. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    For the record, the research to which Anon alludes, as well as my own research published in law reviews, intensively investigates differences between GAAP and IFRS and related policy matters. There is indeed a world of research on the subject.

    Even so, I am not aware of a comparative chart of the kind that we contribute in the piece to which this post links; certainly, the research Anon alludes to does not engage, as that piece does, with the pending SEC rule proposal (issued November 14, 2008). Notably, that proposal remains open for public comment, until April 20, 2009, because of an extension the SEC made in response to controversy on the subject. (See This suggests reason to doubt that the accounting literature has resolved the matter, put to rest the points we raise, or is the only place where those points can be developed.

    True, there often is some disconnect between scholarship in accounting and that in law and accounting, just as there is across many disciplinary boundaries, despite keen interest in interdisciplinary studies. But I don’t think the root of this problem is lack of lawyerly appreciation of accounting scholarship or interest in related research. After all, it also happens that some scholarship in accounting overlooks equivalent legal scholarship that addresses accounting subjects.

    Instead, the problem seems a symptom of more profound and vexing issues associated generally with intellectual specialization and professional parochialism. It would be wonderful if these hurdles could be overcome. But Anon’s lament is a longstanding one and history and experience suggest the hurdles are formidable.