Group Participation in Governmental Accounting Standards Setting: A Cluster Analysis
Public Administration Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 470-485, Winter 1986
11 Pages Posted: 10 Aug 2008 Last revised: 4 Dec 2018
Date Written: 1986
This article content analyzed the participation data with respect to the four Governmental Accounting Standards Board Organization Committee (GASBOC) recommendations.It focused on the GASBOC Exposure Draft 1981 in order to examine the level of agreement (disagreement) between the GASBOC recommendations and the expressed preferences in the comment letters of the constituents. While there are various modes of participation, the present study is confined to the textual analysis of the written submissions made by various groups. Some modes of participation, such as subtle influence upon the decision makers, can be real, but not easily susceptible to empirical verification. In that sense, this study might have dealt with the more obvious, but not necessarily the most important modes of participation that are readily identifiable.
The pyramidic nature of participation with respect to the four GASBOC recommendations generally conforms to the expectations that, out of the total spectrum of interest groups, only a subset will take an interest in the process of accounting standards setting (Feroz, 1982). From a rational perspective, non-participation means an indifference stemming from well articulated negative utilities of participation. Ontologically, the non-participating subsets could be an important object of study. However, these subsets cannot be identified unless they make their preferences manifested in an observable form.
Of the groups participating, the local and state government officials (MFO and SGO) and accounting academics (AA) seem to have a more favorable view of the changes in governmental accounting than the rest of the constituents. Accounting academics have generally been considered to be 'change agents' in the accounting profession.Their favorable view of the GASBOC recommendations further reaffirms their progressive orientation. State and local government officials have long been arguing a case of the uniqueness of governmental accounting as distinct from corporate accounting. An independent GASB with an identity separate from the FASB generally reinforces the case of governmental accountants for their separate identity. .
The clustering of the local and state government officials and accounting academics, with the exception of legendary Robert Anthony, on the one side, and the auditors and the FASB on the other side, generally indicates a lack of consensus among the GASB constituents. Success of the GASB in years to come will depend to some extent upon how persuasively it responds to the groups that were in various levels of agreement (disagreement) with the GASBOC recommendations. In general group support for (or opposition to) the GASB policy initiatives is likely to be issue-specific and transitory. In other words, the very same groups that supported (opposed) the GASBOC recommendations could find themselves in disagreement (agreement) with GASB on some other issues in the future.
Finally, the findings of this study are strictly based upon the population of respondents which may not represent all interests or groups that might be potentially interested in GASB. The delicate balance between support for and opposition to the GASBOC recommendations could very well change if one could incorporate all conceivable interests and groups that might be interested in GASB.To the extent that this failure biases the findings, the conclusions are tentative and partial.
Keywords: Government, Governmental Accounting, GASB, Lobby, Political Economy, Comment Letters, Textual Analysis, Content Analysis, Clusters, Regulation, Political Economy
JEL Classification: H10, H11, L30, L31, L51, M40, M41, M49, P16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation