School of Accountancy Discussion Papers

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    Claims for wrongful pregnancy and child rearing expenses
    (2002) Thomas, C. M.
    Wrongful birth claims relate to the birth of a child as a consequence of medical negligence. There has been general acceptance by courts in various jurisdictions that costs relating to the pregnancy and birth may be recovered. However the more contentious issue is whether there is liability for the costs of rearing such a child. The English courts have held there is no such liability with respect to a healthy child, while in Australia, the Queensland Court of Appeal has taken the opposite view2. In New Zealand the issue has yet to be decided. The Accident Compensation scheme has limited the development of the law relating to personal injury in general, but the High Court has found that the scheme does not prevent claims for wrongful birth. It is argued that the New Zealand courts should follow the Australian decisions, as the English approach is based on the views of ordinary people on this moral question as perceived by judges. This requires the individual judge’s sense of the moral answer to a question to prevail, albeit in light of the judge’s view of the opinions of ordinary people. It is argued that this is a subjective approach in that, in such a complex and emotionally difficult area of the law, there is unlikely to be uniformity of opinion among the public, or even among judges. As such, this is arguably a matter better resolved by legislation than by the courts.
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    Kiwi talent flow : a study of chartered accountants and business professionals overseas
    (2005) Hooks, J. J.; Carr, S. C.; Edwards, M. F.; Inkson, K.; Jackson, D. J. R.; Thorn, K. J.; Allfree, N.
    New Zealanders have always had a propensity to travel overseas. The globalisation of the world has seen an increase in the number of people who, having completed their education and gained some work experience, set off on their overseas experience. Concern has been expressed as to the potential “brain drain” that would result should these well-educated and talented citizens remain overseas permanently. This research considers the propensity to return of over 1,500 expatriate Kiwis working in the areas of accounting and finance. It examines their demographics, attitudes, values, motivations, factors of attraction to, and repulsion from, New Zealand and their concerns for change in New Zealand. It therefore provides insights into the nature and purpose of this significant group of professionals resident mainly in the United Kingdom and Australia. We find that less than half are likely to return to New Zealand. This is because of the lack of career and business opportunities despite the “pull” of family and relations in New Zealand.
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    Has IFRS resulted in information overload?
    (2010) Morunga, M.; Bradbury, M. E.
    The move to NZ IFRS has been surrounded by complaints of too much information being provided. This is not simply a matter of the cost of providing the information, but the possibility of data overload. Data overload is an important issue as it impacts information search strategies and decision outcomes. This relevant for the current debate on differential reporting and for assessing whether NZ IFRS has achieved its goals of reducing the cost of financial analysis. The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of the move to international financial reporting by New Zealand listed entities on the quantity of data provided in the annual report. Our analysis shows that the annual report increased for 92% of our sample firms. The average increase in size was 29% of the prior years‟ annual report and arose through notes to the accounts and accounting policies. Even after transitional information (e.g., accounting policies and reconciliations) the increase is 15%.
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    The determinants of the accounting classification of convertible debt when managers have freedom of choice
    (2005) Bishop, Helen E.
    This study examines the accounting classification of convertible debt in an environment where there is the choice of debt, other capital funds or equity. Contracting theory suggests possible determinants of accounting choice. These are leverage, as a proxy for closeness to debt covenants, the relative size of the convertible financial instrument issued and the contractual terms of the instrument. Two measures of leverage are used. One is debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA). This variable has been included as it is the most commonly used ratio in debt covenants. The second measure is debt to net tangible assets as this ratio, or similar ratios, have been used in previous accounting studies to proxy for closeness to debt covenants. As leverage ratios tend to vary between industries I identify whether each firm is above or below their industry average. I find that the best predictor of the accounting classification choice is the contractual terms of the instrument. The two debt covenants derived hypotheses are not supported. The leverage of the issuer and the relative size of the issue have no significant influence on the choice of classification.
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    The definition of "Insider" in section 3 of the securities markets Act 1988: A review and comparison with other jurisdictions
    (2003) Su, Z.; Berkahn, M. A.
    Statutory definitions of what constitutes an “insider” for the purposes of insider trading laws may be based on either a “person connection” approach or an “information connection” approach. The “person connection” approach defines “insider” by reference to the relationship of the person to the public issuer of securities, while the “information connection” approach considers anyone who has material price-sensitive information about the issuer to be an insider, regardless of his or her relationship to the issuer. In common with Japan, Hong Kong and China, New Zealand’s insider trading law — the Securities Markets Act 1988 — uses a person connection approach in its definition of “insider”. Other jurisdictions, however, including both the United Kingdom and Australia, have, to varying degrees, recently amended their definitions to reflect the information connection approach. The United States, although the first country to address the issue of insider trading, lacks a statutory definition of “insider” and instead relies on generally applicable laws against securities fraud. It has developed a definition with elements of both approaches. This paper reviews the definitions in use in the United States and in other countries (including New Zealand) which have been influenced by the American experience. It concludes that the narrow, relationship-based approach does not capture some conduct that may be damaging to the integrity of the securities market. A definition based on the information connection approach (perhaps combined with elements of the person connection approach) may therefore be preferable to New Zealand’s current definition.
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    The corporatisation of local body entities: A study of financial performance
    (2003) Hooks, J. J.; van Staden, C. J.
    The New Zealand electricity industry provides us with a unique opportunity to examine how entities responded to major restructuring of the industry. This research studies the financial performance of three entities, each with a different ownership structure, over a 15 year period from 1988 to 2002. The aim is to examine the possible influence of ownership type and corporatisation on the development and financial performance of the entities by examining the changes that took place from the pre-corporatisation period to the post-corporatisation period and comparing and contrasting the performance and funding of the three entities over that time. In this way an assessment is made of the possible influence of ownership type on financial performance. This research can be framed to some extent by agency theory aspects of positive accounting theory. In addition legitimacy theory has been used to explain the behaviour of managers and the process of organizations adapting to a changing environment. Both theories acknowledge the interaction of organizations and their environment. The comparison shows that at the end of the study period the council owned company was the smallest, in terms of total assets, of the three companies examined (although it was similar in size to the biggest one at the outset). The council owned company also returned most capital to its shareholders and is the most conservatively financed one of the three with only 10% debt at the end of 2002 compared to 28% for the trust-held company and 87% for the listed company. The listed company ended up being the biggest and the one with the highest gearing, the highest ROA and the highest profit margin. The study concludes that ownership structure did have an influence on financial performance and level of debt funding.
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    Devolved school-based financial management in New Zealand : observations on the conformity patterns of school organisations to change
    (2003) Tooley, S.; Guthrie, J.
    This paper examines the intent and consequences of ‘new’ financial management (the ‘New Public Financial Management’) (NPFM) procedures invoked to facilitate a macro-micro interface within the context of the significant administrative reform of the New Zealand (NZ) state education system. The 1989 administrative reform of the NZ education system was predicated on a particular view of public sector management, which was characterised by the umbrella heading of ‘New Public Management’ (NPM). It was claimed that NPFM provided a link between the sets of values highlighted through the NPM reform process and the internal workings of various public sector organisations. The study provides case studies of the organisational financial management practices of four schools, some ten years after the reform. The observed practices are analysed and interpreted within a theoretical framework comprising two competing theories of change – NPM which provides the ‘normative’ intent for public sector organisational change, and institutional theory that offers an explanation of the ‘operational’ consequences of public sector organisational (i.e. schools) response to change. The findings suggest that accounting and management technologies have served a useful, political purpose, although not in the way espoused by NPM proponents.
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    Management accounting education: is there a gap between academia and practitioner perceptions?
    (2003) Hawkes, L. C.; Fowler, M.; Tan, L. M.
    A mail survey was conducted of all Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand accredited Tertiary Education Institutions and 300 randomly selected New Zealand companies to ascertain the views of management accounting academics and practitioners on the contents of management accounting courses and the skills and competencies of recent graduates. The results show that practitioners placed an emphasis on traditional management accounting techniques, while academics placed an emphasis on contemporary techniques. Both groups were in agreement on the skills and characteristics required of recent graduates. An interesting finding was the emergence of negative comments on the arrogance of new graduates and an increased need for graduates to be work ready. These two aspects were not a feature of previous studies. The implications of the results are that academics cannot ignore the teaching of traditional management accounting techniques and may need to increase the coverage of the issues involved in implementing contemporary management accounting techniques.
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    The impact of events on annual reporting disclosures
    (2003) Hooks, J. J.
    Burchell, Club and Hopwood (1985) considered that “little is known of how...wider social forces can impinge upon and change accounting” (p.382). This study identifies six political forces that may have instigated changes in accounting practice and annual reporting of a New Zealand electricity entity. Based on the literature (Hopwood, 1983, 1990; Napier, 1989; Gray and Haslam, 1990; Thomson, 1993) it is expected that significant changes in the environment in which the entity operates will effect changes in reporting. The study compares the annual report disclosures of an Electricity Supply Authority on a yearly basis from 1970 to 2001 - a 18 year period with little significant environmental impact in the electricity industry with a period of intense activity in the following 14 years. The study found considerable evidence that the change from a local body accountable to electors/consumers to a public company accountable to shareholders, led to a greater emphasis on profits and earnings per share as a means of measuring performance. It identifies specific changes in accounting practice that support this view as well as a period of “big bath” accounting, decreasing disclosure of commercially sensitive information, and the increasing use of dramatic presentation in the annual report.
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    Web assisted teaching: an undergraduate experience
    (2002) van Staden, C. J.; Kirk, N. E.; Hawkes, L. C.
    The emergence of the Internet has created a number of claims as to the future of education and the possibility of dramatically changing the way in which education is delivered. Much of the attention has focussed on the adoption of teaching methods that are solely web-based. We set out to incorporate web-based teaching as support for more traditional teaching methods to improve the learning outcomes for students. This first step into web-based teaching was developed to harness the benefits of web-based teaching tools without supplanting traditional teaching methods. The aim of this paper is to report our experience with web-assisted teaching in two undergraduate courses, Accounting Information Systems and Management Accounting Services, during 2000. The paper evaluates the approach taken and proposes a tentative framework for developing future web-assisted teaching applications. We believe that web-assisted and web-based teaching are inevitable outcomes of the telecommunications and computer revolution and that academics cannot afford to become isolated from the on-line world. A considered approach is needed to ensure the integration of web-based features into the overall structure of a course. The components of the course material and the learning experiences students are exposed to need to be structured and delivered in a way that ensures they support student learning rather than replacing one form of learning with another. Therefore a careful consideration of the structure, content, level of detail and time of delivery needs to be integrated to create a course structure that provides a range of student learning experiences that are complimentary rather than competing. The feedback was positive from both extramural (distance) and internal students, demonstrating to us that web sites can be used as an effective teaching tool in support of more traditional teaching methods as well as a tool for distance education. The ability to harness the positives of the web in conjunction with more traditional teaching modes is one that should not be overlooked in the move to adopt web based instruction methods. Web-based teaching need not be seen as an all or nothing divide but can be used as a useful way of improving the range and type of learning experiences open to students. The Web challenges traditional methods and thinking but it also provides tools to develop innovative solutions to both distance and on campus learning. Further research is needed to determine how we can best meet the needs of our students while maintaining high quality learning outcomes.