How Does the FASB Make Decisions? A Descriptive Study of Agenda Setting and the Role of Individual Board Members
59 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2017 Last revised: 28 Jul 2017
Date Written: July 27, 2017
This study provides descriptive evidence about how the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) sets Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Based on 211 financial accounting standards issued between 1973 and 2014, we report the reasons that the FASB adds or removes projects from its agenda, the parties most frequently bringing issues to the FASB’s attention, and commonly recurring topics across different standards over time. We find that reducing diverse practices and inconsistent guidance is the most frequent reason cited by the FASB to take on a project and more than half of the standards are intended to enhance comparability. We find that the SEC, AICPA, and large public accounting firms are identified most frequently by the FASB as the parties bringing issues to its attention. Accounting for financial instruments is the most frequent recurring topic across accounting standards, which potentially explains the growth in fair value measurement in U.S GAAP over time. We analyze the dissenting opinions written by Board members and find some evidence that the stated reasons for disagreements are associated with their professional backgrounds. However, our analyses indicate Board members’ positions on fair value accounting are context-specific and cannot be fully explained by their professional backgrounds.
Keywords: the Financial Accounting Standards Board, the FASB, accounting standards, standard-setting, agenda, fair value, individual differences
JEL Classification: D78, M41, M48, M50
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation