The main goal of this thesis was to obtain an understanding of the way in which accounting practices that are constantly in transition generate the information that is disclosed in corporate annual reports (CARS). The study shows that CARS may be seen as a product of two main interrelated information processing systems, the first being the mandatory financial information system (MFIS) and the second the discretionary information system (DIS). The MFIS uses accounting practices such as generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), which include International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), International Accounting Standards (IASs), JSE regulations and the Companies' Act requirements, in producing the information disclosed in CARS. The needs of users to reduce the uncertainty and risks in their decision making have an influence on the constantly evolving accounting practices. Standard-setting bodies play a major role in the development and refinement of GAAP. On the other hand, the DIS, in order to provide a complete picture of business entities, uses discretionary accounting practices to produce the contextual information contained in CARS. These discretionary accounting practices are also currently in transition. They cater for the production of information on the business environment, and provide an operating and financial review, overview of strategy, forward-looking information, key performance indicators and information on corporate governance and transparency. Standard-setting bodies may be able to use the contextual information contained in CARS to develop and refine the GAAP used by the MFIS.
Thesis (DComm(Accounting Sciences))--University of Pretoria, 2008.