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Exploring corporate financial reporting choices in Taiwan

By Yu-Lin Hsu - Posted on 17 October 2014

Accounting and Finance at Strathclyde Business School discusses her experience of visiting Taiwan to gather information for her research project.

Early this summer, Strathclyde Business School gave me the opportunity to return to my home country Taiwan to carry out fieldwork for my doctoral research. As my plane landed, I was reminded of how different the weather is in Taiwan compared to Scotland. It’s much hotter and often more humid – but one thing they both have in common is a lot of rain! The target of my trip was to gain detailed access to ten Taiwanese companies over the course of a month. I was enabled to meet this difficult target through the kindness and support of professors in leading institutions in the country.  Taiwanese people hold a great deal of respect for teachers, and so their recommendations helped create ‘ports of entry’ to these companies. Additionally, I received a PGR Travel Award from the University and the Accounting and Finance Department at the Business School, which generously supported the overall cost of my trip.

My work is rooted in accounting and finance, and asks how companies choose their financial reporting regimes and techniques. My research is supervised by Dr Julia Smith, Reader in Accounting and Finance, and Professor Gavin Read, Dean of Dundee Business School. Under the guidance of my supervisors, I had already designed and used a questionnaire to investigate these choices amongst UK businesses. My key hypothesis is that choices over regimes and techniques are based on one of two broad rational decision types: sequential decisions; or ‘in the round’ decisions. A sequential decision means choice of the regime is made initially and then the technique decision follows, or the reverse. ‘In the round’ decisions mean that regime and technique choices are considered simultaneously. My work in Taiwan aimed to do three things: first, to test my key hypothesis on a new body of unseen data; second, to extend my depth of evidence on accounting choice making; and third to increase the scope of my comparative analysis of the UK and Taiwan.

As it turns out, Taiwan is a fascinating country in which to investigate these ideas. The country is currently undergoing a transformation of its accounting systems, with legislation stating all Taiwanese public companies must adopt a new financial reporting protocol by from 2013 or 2015, depending on the type of company, called IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards). Firms can even choose to accelerate the process of IFRS adoption.  My interviews in Taiwan taught me a lot about this significant change, including what preparations firms have put in place to move from their old financial reporting regime to the new IFRS, and secondly how firms choose whether or not to speed up the IFRS adoption process. This detailed insight was very hard to come by and so every piece of evidence I acquired was highly important to my research.

During my trip, I was given the chance to network with several leading academics in Taiwan who offered me their guidance.  Professor Chen-En Ko of the Accounting Department at the National Taiwan University (NTU) facilitated contact with various firms for my interviews. Additionally Dr Szu-Hao Huang of the National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) helped with the fieldwork logistics. Finally, Professor Chi-Chun Liu, Head of the Accounting Department in the NTU, discussed my research with me and we explored the potential for collaboration between his department and the Accounting and Finance Department at the Business School.  I believe the investment from the Business School into my research showed the contacts I had made in Taiwan the quality of learning that the University of Strathclyde delivers to its students.  My fieldwork certainly facilitated new communication and knowledge sharing, and I believe that this will stimulate further ventures between the Business School and the above institutions.

As I boarded the plane back to Scotland, I felt my fieldwork had been undoubtedly successful and enlightening. This would not have been possible without the practical and academic support of the University (particularly the Accounting and Finance Department at the Business School), my supervisors and the Taiwanese professors. It has greatly strengthened my thesis work and has created possibilities for future collaboration for all the institutions involved. I relish returning to Glasgow and completing my comparative analysis of the financial reporting systems of two very interesting and important countries.

Has support from the University enabled you to successfully reach an academic goal?  How did it help and are there any other forms of support you like to see the University offer? 



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