Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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More on abstract experiments in accounting

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To continue my previous line of thought, certainly there is room for creative abstract experiments in accounting research. The classics being experimental economic settings that are well executed so as to be able to study the economic phenomena of interest that have direct implications for accounting.  These can be set up in the audit, tax, financial reporting and management accounting regimes by carefully abstracting away to the essence of the underlying phenomena that those regimes report on.  For example, a percentage of an experimental markets profit is taken to pay a third party who does not contribute directly to the production function (i.e. a tax).

Yet I worry about what we learn about accounting when we ignore, rather than abstract away from, accounting institutional knowledge.  There is a big difference between making the task an abstraction of accounting institutions versus deliberately seeking to ignore those institutions as part of an experiment.  My view is that if you are not tapping into our knowledge of accounting institutions, forces surrounding those institutions, accounting and related knowledge and similar matters it is difficult to make a claim that you are adding to our stock of knowledge about accounting.

Yes, it may be a very fine experiment that explores a basic human information processing issue that  might have application to accounting as well as many others areas of human endeavor, but is that the role of accounting research?  It seems to me that accounting research should have something unique to say about accounting and that pure economics, psychology, and sociology research should be targeted to the base discipline journals.


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