Constructing Accounting as a Public Policy Issue: The Framing of Fair Value Accounting during the Global Financial Crisis of 2007–09

Kirstin Becker, Holger Daske, Christoph Sextroh

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearch


We analyze how accounting topics emerge as public policy issues. Drawing on framing theory, we understand accounting debates as frame contests, wherein different frames, that is, different versions of perceived reality, compete for policymakers’ acceptance. Based on a comprehensive review of the public debate on fair value accounting in Europe and the United States during the global financial crisis of 2007-09, we analyze how actors framed an accounting issue over time to construct a public policy issue. This process entailed a shift of the debate’s focus from contesting fair value accounting’s ability to meet traditional accounting objectives to contesting the accounting rule’s influence on financial stability. Our analysis points to a clash between standard setters’ and their constituents’ mindsets. While standard setters consistently emphasized that financial accounting merely acts as a mirror of economic reality, contextual factors during the financial crisis caused an increasing number of accounting constituents to foster the idea that accounting was itself constructing reality. This shift in the use of frames to challenge accounting regulations resulted in the emergence of a public policy issue where public policymakers adopted the radical view of accounting, according to which standard setters should consider their standards’ economic consequences as an accounting objective.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2020
Number of pages54
Publication statusPublished - 2020
EventVirtual Accounting Research Seminar - Virtual
Duration: 26 Jun 202026 Jun 2020


OtherVirtual Accounting Research Seminar
Internet address


  • Accounting change
  • Politics
  • Framing
  • Fair value accounting
  • Public debate

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