Since October 2008, FASRI has been conducting online meetings (round tables). These events are intended to fulfill our mandate to foster communication between standard setters and researchers, and to encourage research that can inform the Boards’ deliberations on financial reporting issues.
Types of Sessions
Round Table topics and formats vary. Here are some of our common events:
- Standard-setters updates. For these sessions, we hear from a staff member (often a project manager) who has been working closely with a particular standard-setting project. Researchers will have opportunities to ask questions.
- Research Updates. For these sessions, researchers discuss their research with fellow academics and with standard setters who are particularly interested in the particular topic. (FASRI will work with the research presenters to identify the most interested staff, and schedule the event to allow them to attend.)
- Research Advice. These sessions give the floor to those who have been particularly successful in conducting research of interest to standard setters, who can give other researchers ideas on how to pursue their own research agenda more effectively, and enhance the standard-setting impact of their work.
The Key to Successful Researcher-Standard Setter Communication
FASB Research Round Table Discussions are motivated in part by the challenges of communication between standard setters and academic researchers. Both communities use their own language and terminology, and forms of argumentation. Academic researchers usually argue by pointing to the logical implications of economic theory, or the persuasiveness of empirical data to support or refute testable predictions. In contrast, standard setters tend to argue by reference to a conceptual framework that defines the objectives of financial reporting, the methods of achieving those objectives, and the nature of financial statement elements (like “asset” and “income”). Both perspectives can be very powerful, but communication often fails when a researchers tries to use economic theory or empirical arguments to refute a position founded in a standard-setter’s conceptual framework (or vice versa). Equally important, understanding the fine points of economic theory, statistical analysis or research design often require training that few standard setters possess; in the same way, understanding the implications of the conceptual framework and practical considerations for a particular standard require years of immersion in a financial reporting topic, which few academic researchers possess.
In light of these challenges, we strongly encourage researchers to construct their arguments in ways that emphasize the implications for standard setting, can be translated into the Conceptual Framework, and that refer to difficult technical issues only when necessary. Similar recommendations apply to standard setters. However, our philosophy is not one of symmetry: because our goal is to foster research that will inform standard setters, researchers bear a greater burden in framing their arguments in ways meaningful to standard setters than the other way around.
Short-term and Long-term goals
The immediate goals of Round Table Discussions are:
• To communicate academic research to standard setters in a way that will convey its relevance and importance to staff and Board deliberations, and
• To get feedback from the staff and Board (and other researchers) on how your work or future work might be made even more relevant and important.
Keep in mind, however, that our discussions have two longer-term goals:
• To help young researchers learn from your example (and others’ reactions) how to conduct research that can inform standard-setters’ deliberations, and
• To build a community of people who are engaging constructively with standard setters
During the spring of 2011, FASRI began using WebEx as the platform for Round Table Discussions. You can choose between any of the following three easy ways to register for participation/observation with respect to any Round Table Discussion.
- Follow the simple instructions in the post announcing the Round Table;
- Send an email to the FASB Research Fellow, who will return an email with a clickable link that will take you to the meeting registration site; or
- Go to http://intercall.webex.com on the day of the scheduled Round Table, click on “attend a meeting”, enter the meeting number given in the FASRI post announcing the meeting, fill in your name, email address and the meeting password, Fasri001 (case sensitive), click on “join”.
We hope that you will be able to stay after sessions, even if only briefly, to chat with people who may be interested in following up on your research, and perhaps exploring opportunities for collaboration or further discussion. A few minutes of your time can play an important role in building a community of researchers who are willing and able to work constructively on standard setting issues.
WebEx has several features that are particularly helpful for our Round Table discussions, including ease of scheduling and access, high-quality document and screen sharing, text messaging to the entire group or to selected individuals (of your choosing) within the group, and recording and archiving sessions. You can participate/observe from any computer anywhere.