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HI6025 Accounting Theory And Current

tag 0 Download 9 Pages / 2,134 Words tag 12-07-2021


in the world under study. (As I will explain below, some streams of critical accounting research fall within this definition and are subject to the argument devloped in this paper.) The setting of accounting is one in which causes of human behaviour may be explored in large and complex organizations where face-to-face interaction is largely replaced by less-personal or completely impersonal systems of information for decision-making. To understand both the importance and the deficiencies of positive accounting research, I briefly review the wider intellectual project, with its ontological and epistemological assumptions.
This review exposes serious deficiencies in the way that positive accounting research is actually performed, which prevents it from making a meaningful contribution to the wider project. These deficiencies are illustrated by examining some good recent papers. The illustrative papers could have been chosen from any area of accounting, but to focus the discussion they will be selected predominantly from the auditing literature.If positive accounting research is a well-established social system which is not well-designed for contributing to the scientific research project, its real purpose may be different. The concept of the disciplinary matrix used by Kuhn (1970) suggests instead that positive research may be a paradigm which is optimal for solving accepted puzzles, within a social group which accepts and rewards such puzzle-solving regardless of the social or intellectual contribution to be derived from the solutions.
This suggestion gains weight from data presented by Lee (1997) on the dominance of the key accounting journals by a self-replicating ´elite. If that is so, there seems little hope that the ´elite could be persuaded to adopt a more effective paradigm. However, the data of Fogarty and Markarian (2007) hint that the relative position of the ´elite may be declining. Possibly, therefore, we may anticipate a future crisis and an opportunity for adopting a more useful paradigm. In the meantime, I offer suggestions for actions by referees and editors to nudge the present system towards liberating positive accounting research to achieve its potential.

In papers such as this, one is expected to disclose one’s background and biases. I was trained as a theoretical physicist, and my accounting research has been positivist, concerned either with building or testing models. Thus,my criticisms are from the perspective of one who thinks that the research project is important, and is disappointed by the ineffective versions that are now practiced in accounting. However, my father is an historian, and I am by no means dismissive of non-positive approaches to understanding the world.

Imagine a stream of intellectual enquiry built around the following working hypotheses:
1. There exists a world which is independent of our imagination. That is,we did not make it up; and events in that world are not subject to the control of our wishes.
2. Events in that world have causes which are themselves part of the world.That is, events are neither completely random nor the results of interventions from outside the world. 
3. It is possible for normal people to obtain fairly reliable information about events in the world, by careful observation. This does not imply that we will never be mistaken in our observations, only that the observations are not completely unconnected to the world.
4. The purpose of the intellectual enquiry is to use observations to gain an understanding of the world, and in particular of causation. That is, we seek mental models which correctly map the causal processes that occur in the world.
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