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Harmonisation of accounting standards: disclosure policies and practices of european commercial banks

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par Michael Forzeh Fossung
Gothenburg University - Master of Science (MSc) Accounting 2002
  

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3.4 CHOICE OF CASE STUDY AND SCOPE OF THE SURVEY

As explained above, we are doing a comparative study across national boundaries, thus a multiple case study approach has been used. To make our conclusion more reliable, we have chosen countries in the European community with different cultural backgrounds. Banks, as our case studies, are from Sweden, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Although our sample is very small for the population within which we are working, our intention is just to illustrate the problems. Our results aim at giving a picture of the situation, and probably promoting further research.

3.5 CHOICE OF BANKS

We resolved to choose banks whose financial statements are available on the net, and which are published in English. These banks should also be large in size in their respective countries. Three factors have been used to measure size; these are: the number of employees, turnover, and income. It is not necessary to discuss size in detail. The banks in the figure below meet these criteria. It is worth mentioning that some banks of comparable size have been left out of the study not because they fail to meet the criteria, but because we intended to reduce the sample size. Consequently, in the population of banks with comparable size, we made a random sample.

Sweden Germany United Kingdom

-- SEB Bank --Deutsche Bank --Barclays Bank

--FöreningsSpar. --Dresdner Bank --HSBC Holdings

FIGURE 5: SCOPE OF THE SURVEY (A PRESENTATION OF SAMPLE)

3.5 DATA AND INFORMATION COLLECTION

In this study, we have used secondary data as the only source of information. We would have used the primary data, especially interview to illustrate further. The existence of time and cost has limited our findings to the use of secondary data. However, this have not very much, affected our results. (See validity) Our secondary data has been collected from annual reports, journals and magazines, as well as textbooks.

3.6 LITERATURE REVIEW

In this part of the thesis, we conduct an extensive search of various articles, literature, databases, and other secondary data, which carries meaningful information on the topic. The prestigious School of Economics and Commercial Law library has been our major source of information, as an extensive search of various databases carrying meaningful information on the topic and topics within its sphere.

3.7 VALIDITY

Validity tells us whether an item measures what it is supposed to measure or describe. Historically, countries with different cultures have often had different approaches to accounting standards preparation. To make our study valid, we have chosen case studies from different cultural backgrounds in order to be able to make an effective comparative analysis.

For an illustration of differences in international accounting practices, secondary data (especially information from annual reports) constitutes a more appropriate data source. Validity can be attained when only the secondary data is analyzed. We are not saying that the primary data would be useless; rather the use of secondary data would add more meaning to the results.

However, it is important to note that interviews give room for normative information, which is not significant in this economic situation. If we had used primary data, instead of getting information on what companies actually do (as published in annual reports), we would have received information on what companies ought to or are supposed to be doing. Interviews could have been indispensable only in the case of explaining what may turn out to be ambiguous or difficult information to understand in the financial statements. Since ambiguity is minimal, we are very convinced that the secondary data used provides us with enough of a basis to accomplish the purpose of this research.

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