The feasibility of the statement of generally accepted accounting practice for small and medium enterprises
Schutte, Daniël Petrus
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Governments are becoming increasingly aware of SMEs as economical role players. As a result many initiatives were introduced to address the unique challenges of the SME sector. One of these initiatives was the introduction of a global accounting framework for SMEs by the International Accounting Standards Board entitled the IFRS for SMEs. South Africa became the first country to formally adopt the contents thereof as the Statement of GAAP for SMEs. The adoption of a formal accounting framework by SMEs is however challenged by, amongst other factors, the informal nature of SMEs, limited global focus, the involvement of owner–managers and different classifications of SMEs worldwide. Owing to these unique attributes it is possible that SMEs have alternative informational needs and as a result the impact of environmental factors on the adoption of the Statement of GAAP for SMEs was considered. Culture is considered the most important environmental factor affecting the accounting environment. The Value Survey Model of Hofstede was utilised to determine cultural dimensions of accounting students (n = 301) in South Africa and the United Kingdom (UK). The cultural dimensions were extended to the accounting values of Gray after which a distinct set of accounting values was identified for i) the adoption of formal, global and prescriptive accounting standards, ii) based on principles iii) by an informal SME sector. The results also revealed distinct cultural differences within South Africa as well as between South Africa and the UK. Thereafter the contents of the Statement of GAAP for SMEs/IFRS for SMEs were evaluated against reporting practices of the SME sector in South Africa. Firstly, an assessment of the contents was conducted amongst SME accountants (n = 157) using a five–point Likert–type scale. Secondly, financial statements compiled by the SME sector in South Africa were analysed to determine the relevance of the contents of the illustrative financial statements contained in the Statement of GAAP for SMEs. The analysis entailed a consolidation of a sample of SME financial statements from South Africa (n = 100). The study revealed that the accounting environment of the SME sector is affected by a wide range of environmental and related factors. These factors were summarised and discussed and recommendations for future research were made.