Article | Accounting and Business Research | 2011

'Deprival Value' vs. 'Fair Value' Measurement for Contract Liabilities: How to Resolve the 'Revenue Recognition' Conundrum

by Joanne Horton, Richard H. Macve and George Serafeim

Abstract

Revenue recognition and measurement principles can conflict with liability recognition and measurement principles. We explore here under different market conditions when the two measurement approaches coincide and when they conflict. We show that where entities expect to earn "super profits" (residual income) the conceptual conflict is exacerbated by the adoption of "fair value" (FV) as the measurement basis for assets and liabilities rather than the more theoretically grounded approach of "deprival value/relief value" (DV/RV), which better reflects the impact of, and rational management response to, varying market conditions. However, while the problems of balance-sheet liability and revenue recognition, and the related problems of income statement presentation, can be resolved by the application of DV/RV reasoning, this is not sufficient fully to resolve issues of the appropriate timing of profit recognition. Performance measurement issues still need to be addressed directly. The standard setters' current projects on "recognition," "insurance contracts," and "measurement" therefore need broadening to consider the pervasive issue of accounting for internally generated intangibles.

Keywords: Fair Value Accounting; Measurement and Metrics; Profit; Revenue; Conflict and Resolution; Assets; Performance Evaluation; Projects; Contracts;

Citation:

Horton, Joanne, Richard H. Macve, and George Serafeim. "'Deprival Value' vs. 'Fair Value' Measurement for Contract Liabilities: How to Resolve the 'Revenue Recognition' Conundrum." Accounting and Business Research 41, no. 5 (2011): 491–514.