Prior studies explain the early adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) by firm-specific benefits. However, IFRS adoption also leads to increased disclosure and reduced accounting choices, resulting in a loss of private benefits for company insiders. This paper argues that this loss depends on characteristics of the institutional environment (i.e. the level of investor protection). We find that in countries with strong laws or extensive corporate governance codes IFRS is more likely adopted as the loss of private benefits for company insiders is smaller. Furthermore, corporate governance recommendations are as effective as laws in stimulating IFRS adoption and become more important when laws are weaker.