As part of my reading assignment for the AAA Doctoral Consortium (on New Media, Research and Standard Setting), I have asked Consortium students to write a blog piece or two.  Welcome to FASRI.net, Willy Choi, and thanks for a strong first contribution!  –Rob B.

After reading a recent literature review on accounting standard convergence by Hail, Leuz, & Wysocki (available here), I couldn’t help but notice that the discussion was focused almost completely on research on accounting standards.  At first, this seemed like a no-brainer.  Why wouldn’t a review of research on accounting standards speak only of accounting standards research?  But as I think more about the topic of standards convergence, I find myself asking the question: Is standards convergence uniquely accounting?  That is, do we see standards convergence in other fields?  If so, what might we as accounting researchers and standard-setters learn from them?

For instance, research in education (and in particular, comparative education) shows a higher-than-expected level of uniformity/convergence in primary education (e.g., elementary school in the U.S.) practices worldwide (see Joel Spring’s book Globalization of Education).  Such convergence seems to have developed in the absence of any particular efforts to create a unified system of education.  At the same time, we do see some significant differences in education worldwide (e.g., the # of years of compulsory education, diploma/certification, etc.).

How might we in accounting use evidence like this to inform us about accounting standards convergence?  Perhaps more importantly, what should we take away from the fact that we do not currently have an official global system of education with centralized authority like the FASB or IASB?  Ultimately, it seems unlikely (at least to me) that standards convergence (or at least the prospect of it) is unique to accounting.  As such, it might be fruitful to consider other fields and determine what it is we can glean from them.  To this end, does anyone know of research in other fields about standards convergence?