An Examination of ‘Institutional Ascription’: Capture of the Gatekeepers of Accounting Veracity

Murray Bryant, Throstur Olaf Sigurjonsson*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper aims to apply the theory of gatekeeping — institutional ascription — using the financial crisis of 2008–2009 in Iceland as a case. An investigation of the theory was conducted (Gabbioneta et al., 2014). The research question tested is whether the auditors, regulators, rating agencies, and analysts failed in the duty of stewardship to assess the scale and scope of accounting scandals and fraud perpetrated by executives of financial institutions. The paper shows that unless legal cases are prosecuted, where a complete presentation of evidence is presented, the theory has explanatory power but little predictive power, as all information must be in the public domain. The data applied in this paper is enriched by several unique elements of the situation described: a Special Investigation Commission (SIC, 2010), a report by a wellknown regulator, the Office of a Special Prosecutor, (Jännäri, 2009) the role of the Supreme Court in reviewing all cases emanating from the crash, and a Report on Financial Stability (Central Bank of Iceland, 2010). Because of the extensive database provided by a combination of disinfectant and sunlight, this paper permits a richness of data across all financial institutions and an investigation of the theory of institutional ascription. The paper teaches authorities the need for more active use of the criminal system to prosecute wrongdoing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRisk Governance and Control: Financial Markets & Institutions
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)30-39
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Financial Regulation
  • Trust
  • Malfeasance
  • Reputational Capital
  • Compliance
  • Critical Accounting Information

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