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Conjectures Regarding Empirical Managerial

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Discuss about the Conjectures Regarding Empirical Managerial.



This study is aimed to cater a critical review on the implementation of positive accounting research in the financial accounting system. Furthermore, the paper focuses on exploration of the effectiveness of positive accounting theory aiding and making significance study to improve the accounting researches. The positive research is based on the empirical events and it gives the explanation and prediction of upcoming events and happening (Williams, 1989). The theory was explained by the Watts and Zimmerman to predict the human behaviour and social system in the accounting practices with scientific approach. There are various claims and criticisms are being researched by many authors which gave popularity and attention to this theory recently.  In this context, the positive research is being critically investigated by reviewing and analysing the article. The article aims to describe the drawbacks and benefits of positive research in accounting system (Dunmore, 2010). Summary of the article is being illustrated with the theoretical model which is being examined in the article providing the essence of the theory and its methodology with suitable recommendations by the author (Williams, 1989). Moreover, the study has also reflected the research question which has been depicted from the literature review of the article. Lastly, limitations of the article and benefits during the research have been shown.

Summary of the Article

The article named ‘Half a Defence of Positive Accounting Theory’ written by P.V. Dunmore has been critically examined in this paper. The article intended to provide a brief disparagement on the implication of positive research in accounting practices (Williams, 2003). The author explains the positive research as a consideration of social system, political practices and human behaviour that influences business activities in the long run. The explanation of that unpredicted events and its accounting practices are called as positive accounting theory. However, the author also emphasised on the logic behind the failure or criticism of positive research in the accounting (Williams, 2003). The science and accounting standards says, accounting is an independent practices only recorded when some material change happens or when any finance related changes in the organisation and social event prediction or happening is also independent which can be influenced by many factors. Thus, happening and non-happening of the events can be subject to purely on human behaviour which is very versatile and influenced by various variables (Williams, 2003). Therefore, the positive research being a part of accounting is not valid and sound.


Moreover, the author collected various similar examples in the critics of positive research and draws a wide description on drawbacks of the positive accounting theory as a scientific base (Zimmerman, 2001).  The author has presented a significant literature review approving many other authors in the view that positive accounting research is not based on practical or quantitative mode which lacks it as a scientific and convenient for accounting practices. In addition to this, the author elucidate that the positive research by Watts and Zimmerman lacks in the credibility and perpetual in terms of numerical values that weakens the positive accounting theory as a scientific approach (Zimmerman, 2001). This issue also fails the theory in successful designing and having inadequate designed research methods. The theory of positive research does not provide a legitimate base for testing and verifying results in the practical execution of accounting practices (Zimmerman, 2001). The hypothesis of the theory is also irrelevant and does not conclude beneficial facts to augment the ease of accounting practices.

Corresponding to this, it is a single minded way to present the theory as a claim more than verifying its validity, thus, it require more précised theoretical model than a well defined practical approach (Belal, 2012). Every natural science needs to address economic point of view to serve a base of accounting policy or system while this theory favours contingency and expectancy theory which are not economic-based theories. Thus, empirical accounting theory falls short in attempting economics as apart off positive research. Accordingly, less use of quantitative and more use qualitative data have also complexes the testable predictions and non beneficial theoretical model.  The research was also focused on providing decision making and not controlling the facts related to the future events (Belal, 2012). It is being largely used by the organizations due to its popularity but has no noteworthy use like a practical and scientific application in accounting practices.

On the other hand, author of the article has constructed some valid points in the favor of positive research (Mattessich, 2013). As per Kuhn’s idea of accounting theory, the positive researches are best to execute it normal science. The article has also suggested some techniques to convert a positive research more improved and better version holding universal validity. Theoretical model of the positive accounting theory is also being recommended to alter and make it more quantities oriented to provide a practical base (Mattessich, 2013). Thus, the paper has encompassed all the essential topics related to the positive accounting theory and produces a direction to the conclusion.


The research question of this paper is ‘What are the defects in the theoretical framework of positive accounting theory that limits it as a scientific based practice?’ It seeks to explore the concept related to positive accounting theory and its critical examination (Dunmore, 2010). Besides that, the article has emphasised on more points such as:   

  • What are the benefits and limitations of the positive research?
  • How positive research is convenient as a practical approach and why its practice is popular among organizations?
  • How theoretical model of positive accounting research can be improved? What are the suggestions for its future applications?

The above research questions are directing the article research and exploring it in an appropriate way (Dunmore, 2010). These questions are framed and covered from the literature review as well as theoretical framework of the article.

Theoretical Framework

Positive research theory has various setbacks that can be eliminated with suggested theoretical model by Dunmore in the article. In the arguments, author explained that the positive accounting theory is based on the observations and does not entail any value judgement. Therefore it fails its execution to attain the practical base and fruitful results. In order to fix this, the author mentioned to test the theories with numerical and descriptive data too (Belkaoui, 2004).  The method is popper’s falsification criterion that removes the observation and facts from the theory which are not apt for the accounting standards. Popper’s falsification helps in finding the falsified observations in the course of testing. Hence, the ultimate results provide cogent satisfied theory which justifies scientific base (Belkaoui, 2004). The popper’s criterion uses sets of observation to select and reject the testified data and detail about the theory effectively. Additionally, article also advocated on the use of qualitative data with examples like zoology and biology that are perfect for positive researches. The qualitative data is also being justified with the application of Popper’s falsification criterion technique. Likewise, the article reported the hypothesis testing with the statistical and logical facts to add the quality in the positive accounting theory (Lipe, 2001).  Following the importance and after results of precise incorporation of popper’s falsification criterion the article has revealed the exact weakness in the positive research and recommended ideas to improve it pertaining to standards the accounting practice the organisation.


Along with this, the article also recommended some suggestion to improve the research program of positive accounting theory as follows: first, by implementing vulnerable models that is designed to address the specified requirements of the positive research approach.  It is essential for any data in a quantitative form for the accounting purpose, just like that it will be easy to measure the results and free from audit complexities in the organisation (Rahim, 2013). It will facilitate the managerial control over the events and happening which to be accounted by this theory.  After that, analytical modelling will help in framing experimental based theoretical model for the positive accounting that will enhance the scientific aspect of the accounting policy. The focus of the theory should be more on the testing and justifying the claim rather than results and its measurement. It will help in achieving legal regime to the positive research (Linda and Diana, 2013). Additionally, author also emphasised on a critic with the theory that it is not updated and changed since it was introduced. This limits the vision and its application after a certain period of time. This suggests that, any theory or policy should be revised and replaced with the better version of old theory. It enhances its quality and execution in the future researches plus adds the real purpose of the research. The article adds the explanation of empirical testing and suggestion presented by the author (Linda and Diana, 2013). In the last part it has also admitted the role of positive research beneficial in the execution of normal science rather than financial accounting. Although suggested that recovered and superior concept of positive accounting research can be realised.

The Significance and Limitation of the Article

The article has various benefits as an accounting research for the decision makers whether to use the positive accounting theory in future or not (Rahim, 2013). This research also offers successful implications in the future researches and add to enhance the quality of the positive research theory. The article has also suggested many recommendations to apprehend the opportunity to make it a superior theory. It draws a fruitful vision on the advantages and disadvantages of positive accounting research implication in the organisation (Rahim, 2013). The article is also illustrates its apt utilization in the normal science rather than accounting practices. Thus, this article is a good example for the critics of positive accounting theory.


The article has presented only one side of the positive accounting theory and described its drawbacks profoundly by presenting précised support by presenting views of other authors. The article is purely directed in the direction of author’s observations which has only presented shortcoming in the positive accounting (Smith, 2014). Moreover, the sources embroiled in the article is only secondary sources which adds only qualitative data as a reliable source to justify its conclusion on the other hand, be deficient in collecting primary sources as a more reliable and accurate information based source as well as lacks to offer any quantitative data. The article is biased with the personal attitude and vision of the author that directed the entire research and not beinga critical analysis of positive accounting research (Smith, 2014).

The above context has ensured the disadvantage of the positive accounting theory with the credible sources in the article. It presented the effective points to make the article reliable and effective in respect of future researches. The theoretical framework has been well represented and recommended ideas to make it advanced and more feasible. Thus, this study facilitates the convenient and effective critical examination of positive accounting theory.



Belal, A. R. 2012. Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting in Developing Countries: The Case of Bangladesh. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.

Belkaoui, A. R. 2004. Accounting Theory. Cengage Learning.

Dunmore, P. V. 2010. Half a Defense of Positive Accounting Research.

Linda, C., and Diana, L. 2013. Development of the Accounting Research Methods in Albania. Studies in Business and Economics journal 8(3), pp. 32-40.

Lipe, R. C. 2001. COMMENTARY- Lease Accounting Research and the G4+1 Proposal.  American Accounting Association Accounting Horizons 15(3), pp. 299–310.

Mattessich, R. 2013. Reality and Accounting: Ontological Explorations in the Economic and Social Sciences. Routledge.

Rahim, M. M. 2013. Legal Regulation of Corporate Social Responsibility: A Meta-Regulation Approach of Law for Raising CSR in a Weak Economy. Springer Science & Business Media.

Smith, M. 2014. Research Methods in Accounting. 3rd ed. Sage.

Williams, P. F. 1989. The Logic of Positive Accounting Research. Accounting Organizations and Society 14(5/6), pp. 455--468.

Williams, P. F. 2003. Modern Accounting Scholarship: The Imperative of Positive Economic Science. Accounting Forum 27(3), pp. 251 – 269. 

Zimmerman, J. L. 2001. Conjectures regarding empirical managerial accounting research. Journal of Accounting and Economics, pp.  411-427.

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