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Accounting window dressing and template regulation: A case study of the Australian credit union industry

Hillier, D.J. and Hodgson, Allan and Lhaopadchan, S. and Stevenson-Clarke, P. (2008) Accounting window dressing and template regulation: A case study of the Australian credit union industry. Journal of Business Ethics, 83 (3). pp. 579-593. ISSN 0167-4544

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Abstract

This article documents the response of cooperative institutions that were required to adhere to new capital adequacy regulations traditionally geared for profit-maximising organisations. Using data from the Australian credit union industry, we demonstrate that the cooperative philosophy and internal corporate governance structure of cooperatives will lead management to increase capital adequacy ratios through the application of accounting window dressing techniques. This is opposite to the intended purpose of template regulation aimed at efficiently increasing operating margins and lowering risk. Our results raise several debatable issues regarding the ethics of accounting management and the imposition of one-shoe-fits-all external regulation.