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Critical Analysis Of Research Article

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What is PAT model and why it is used in scientific accounting researches?

How effectively has PAT model helped in achieving the scientific aims and objectives of accounting research?

What are the current gaps in PAT model that needs to be fulfilled for its successful adoption in quantitative accounting researches?




The accounting field since past decades has adopted the use of positive accounting researches for gaining knowledge about the reality of accounting practices o business organizations. The author Paul v Dunmore, in this regard, has developed a research article entitled ‘Half a Defense of Positive Accounting Research’ to evaluate the significance of positive accounting researches. This paper has undertaken the critical analysis of the research article for analyzing its main arguments and develops an understanding of positive accounting researches. The aim of the critique of the article carried out in this paper is to evaluate the major concepts of positive accounting theory and its application in accounting researches.  The arguments in the research article are related to the usefulness of implementing positive theory concepts in accounting researches (Dunmore, 2009). The critical analysis of the research article has been carried through providing its brief summary, stating the research questions, discussing its theoretical framework, illustrating the significance and limitations and at last summarizing its main points in the conclusion section.


Summary of Article

The research article has illustrated the current gap in positive accounting researches that needs to be improved through the use of better theoretical concepts in comparison to the model of positive accounting. The theory of positive accounting was stated to be developed on the principle of natural science and thus has been used widely in positive accounting researches. The main reason behind the use of PAT (Positive Accounting Theory) model in accounting researches is to maintain the scientific nature of such researches. The accounting researches incorporate the use of scientific rules and principles for resolving complex accounting issues. As such, the researches involve the use of theory that are scientific in nature and thus can achieve an appropriate answer for the scientific aims and objectives of accounting researches. As such, the PAT model developed by Watts and Zimmerman in 1970s finds extensive use in scientific accounting researches (Bazrafshan and Talebnia, 2016).

However, the research article has depicted various gaps in this model that has impacted its applicability in scientific accounting researches. The major issues pointed out by the author in the given research article are weakness of the logic of hypothesis-testing. Also, the concepts of the PAT model can only be used as a lens to view the reality of accounting practices but fails to provide its appropriate explanation. The theory also only explains the cause of rational human behavior in accounting and is not able to provide an answer to the non-rational causes (Boland and Gordon, 2010). The there is also not able to provide a measurable output in accounting researches and thus is regarded to be not appropriate by the author for using in accounting researches. The theory of positive accounting only demonstrates the relation between two variables through using ad hoc quantitative models. Thus, the model of PAT is not able to demonstrate a testable relation between the accounting variables that is based on analytical research. The author has also examined the scientific nature of positive accounting researches thorough the use of Popper’s falsification criterion. The overall research article has summarized the deficiencies in PAT model with the aim to improve the outcome achieved from accounting researches (Dunmore, 2009).

Research Question

The research article has intended to analyze and examine the current drawbacks in the PAT model and provided suggestions for improvement in accounting researches. The literature review of the research article is based on demonstrating the significance and deficiencies in positive accounting theory. As such, the main research question developed from examining the literature review of the article is stated as ‘Does Positive Accounting Research provides an appropriate understanding of the accounting literature?’ In relation to this main research question, the study also intends to provide answer to the following sub-research questions:


Theoretical Framework

The theoretical substance of the research article has been developed by analyzing and evaluating the findings of other authors in relation to the use of positive theory in accounting researches. The research article has examined the positive approach to accounting researches through the help of reviewing the information gathered by other researchers in this context. As per the research article, the positive accounting researches are regarded to be a scientific project that are undertaken to provide an explanation of the cause and effect relationships of the real world. The reality of accounting practices is explored through positivist researches through the use of concepts provided by positive accounting theory. The theory provides predictions about the real world situations and transforms them into accounting transactions (Setyorini and Ishak, 2012). As such, the theory is utilized by investors and creditor in order to predict the accounting policies a business firm will select or the impact of a new policy change on their financial performance. The theory of PAT is based on economic principles and thus was believed to be largely useful in recognizing the economic consequences of a particular situation.  Therefore, the theory is used in achieving the scientific objectives of accounting researches as it is based on principle of economics and natural science (Tehrani et al., 2009).

The best understanding of the PAT model to be based on scientific nature was provided by Popper. The falsification criterion of Popper was used for rejecting theories claimed to be scientific through the help of falsification procedure. The procedure involves obtaining quantitative testable predictions from a respective theory and testing them on the basis of falsification. The predictions of the theory if proved to be falsified with comparing them from the predictions of old theories are disapproved on scientific basis. The author in the theoretical framework of the research article has also pointed out that the concept of positive researches is much broader as compared to the positive theory (Dunmore, 2009). The accounting researches tend to explain both rational as well as non-rational aspects of human behavior in accounting settings. However, the use of PAT model is only proved to be successful in explaining the cause of rational human behavior (Ghanbari et al., 2016).

Also, the deficiencies present in both qualitative and quantitative positive accounting researches has been depicted in the research article. The current gap as stated in the qualitative accounting research is that it can only help in viewing a real world situation and is not able to provide an explanation for its occurrence (Whittington, 2007). The current deficiency of quantitative positive accounting research is that it relies more on the logic of statistical hypothesis development rather than on the concept of measurement. The author has proposed that quantitative accounting researches should be based on measurement of concepts so that it outcome are reproducible (Dunmore, 2009). Thus, the theoretical framework has been developed by the author that provides the current decencies present in the positive accounting theory model that needs to be improved. This is necessary for achieving a better outcome from the scientific accounting researches and depicting the reality of accounting practices (Wolk, Dodd and Rozycki, 2008).


Significance and Limitations of the Article

The article will provide to be of a high value for accounting researchers for achieving a better outcome from quantitative accounting researches. The accounting researchers will develop an understanding of the gaps in PAT model and the lack present in accounting researches. The author has also provided suggestions for improvement in accounting researches that will help in developing a better theoretical model for conducting scientific projects in accounting researches. The undue reliance on the use of PAT model in quantitative accounting researches will be restricted through the author arguments against the use of PAT model. However, the research study is also associated with some limitations that can raise questions regarding its credibility and validity to be used in future accounting researches. The major limitation of the study is that it explores and analyses only qualitative data that has been gathered from the work of previous researchers. The study has depicted the use of qualitative research methodology and the study is purely descriptive (CTI Reviews, 2016). The study has not explored any new dimension illustrating the benefits and criticism with the use of PAT model in accounting researches. These limitations have negatively impacted the significance of the research article to be used in future context. This research lacks any objectivity in absence of collection of any primary data to support the theoretical substance stated by the author in the article. The research study being only subjective lacks reliability in the eyes of readers. The demonstration of practical findings in support of qualitative findings proposed by the author is necessary to maintain the credibility of the study and increase its reliability for using in future accounting researches (Dunmore, 2009).



It can be summarized from the research article that positive accounting theory is mainly used for explaining the reality of accounting practices. The theory as demonstrated in the article suffers from various drawbacks that limit its applicability in accounting researches. The author thus has suggested some areas for improvement in positive accounting theory so that it can be successfully applied in accounting researches. The suggestions include focusing on the concept of measurement rather than hypothesis testing in quantitative accounting researches. The adoption of measurement concept is necessary as accounting data is usually subjected to error of measurement. Thus, through the role of statistics in accounting can’t be neglected the precise measurement of accounting data is also significantly required. The main goal of hypothesis testing as stated by the author should be to provide predictions into the occurrence of future accounting situations. The author has recommended that there is high need for development of better theoretical models than PAT that is based on analytical researches and testable predictions. The predictions provided y PAT model in analyzing an accounting situation are not subjected to be proper analysis through the use of falsification criterion. The critical analysis of the article has thus proved be very useful in analyzing the importance of PAT and its importance in positive accounting researches. This critical analysis will prove to be highly useful for future researchers in order to carry out research in relation to the benefits and drawbacks of positive accounting theory. The main arguments present by the author in the research article have been examined appropriately in this critical analysis.



Bazrafshan, M., and  Talebnia, G. 2016. Challenges Positive Accounting Theory. International Journal of Basic Sciences & Applied Research 5(2), 119-122.

Boland, L. A., and Gordon, I. M. 2010. Criticizing positive accounting theory. Contemporary Accounting Research 9(1), 142 – 170.

CTI Reviews. 2016. Earnings Management, Emerging Insights in Theory, Practice, and Research: Business, Business. Cram101 Textbook Reviews.

Dunmore, P.V. 2009. Half a Defence of Positive Accounting Research.

Ghanbari, M. et al. 2016. PAT (Positive Accounting Theory) and Natural Science. International Research Journal of Applied and Basic Sciences 10(2), 177-182.

Setyorini, C. T., and Ishak, Z. 2012. Corporate Social and Environmental Disclosure: A Positive Accounting Theory. International Journal of Business and Social Science 3(9), 152-164.

Tehrani, R. et al. 2009. The Survey of the political Costs and Firm Size: Case from Iran. Business Intelligence Journal 2(2), 139-142.

Whittington, G. 2007. Profitability, Accounting Theory and Methodology: The Selected Essays of Geoffrey Whittington. Routledge.

Wolk, H. I., Dodd, J. L., and Rozycki, J. J. 2008. Accounting Theory: Conceptual Issues in a Political and Economic Environment. SAGE.


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