Balancing Past and Present: Impact of Accounting Internationalization on German Accounting Regulation

34 Pages Posted: 16 Jan 2013 Last revised: 10 May 2015

See all articles by Rolf Uwe Fülbier

Rolf Uwe Fülbier

University of Bayreuth

Malte Klein

University of Bayreuth

Date Written: January 10, 2014


Financial accounting is rooted in national thoughts, traditions and institutional settings. As a consequence, accounting has developed heterogeneously over time to fulfill contracting purposes in divergent national environments. Against this background, we argue that the ongoing process of accounting internationalization and imposed harmonization entails the danger of deforming country-specific accounting systems, especially when the national envi-ronment for economic and contractual activities is not harmonized at all. In contrast to the more evolutionary integration and adjustment processes of the past where spillover effects have always existed, the rapidity of the current process and its coercive nature leads to increasing regulatory challenges. To support our argument and to substantiate the country-specific role of accounting for contracting purposes, we provide an in-depth case study of one country, Germany. We illustrate how the traditional German commercial law accounting system has historically evolved over centuries to meet specific contractual needs. Moreover, we show how the current process of accounting internalization has affected German accounting legislation and respective attempts to balance German accounting regulation’s past and present.

Keywords: Germany, German accounting, HGB, Europe, code law, legal system, socioeconomic-environment, institutional settings, SME, accounting history

JEL Classification: K22, M41, N00, N24, N44

Suggested Citation

Fülbier, Rolf Uwe and Klein, Malte, Balancing Past and Present: Impact of Accounting Internationalization on German Accounting Regulation (January 10, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

Rolf Uwe Fülbier

University of Bayreuth ( email )

Universitätsstraße 30
Bayreuth, 95447
+49(0)921 554820 (Phone)
+49(0)921 554822 (Fax)


Malte Klein (Contact Author)

University of Bayreuth ( email )

Universitaetsstr 30
D-95447 Bayreuth

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