Accounting and enabling greater accountability: The suppressed role of the accounting intellect
Liyanarachchi, Gregory A.
This paper extends the work of Weiss and Berney (2004), Clarke et al., (2003), Chambers (1980; 1999) and Schuetze, (2001) by developing the argument further that the current Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) are a fundamental obstacle to producing reliable corporate information. Specifically, it is argued that the accounting profession may continue to evade accountability for corporate financial statements unless it responds to the intellectual issues in accounting. The paper shows that significant opportunities arose in the past - in the early part of the 1900s (during the aftermath of the US Securities Market Collapse), the debates of normative versus positive accounting (1930s – 1970s) and the audit expectations gap (1970s – 1990s) and finally during the aftermath of recent corporate collapses - for bringing intellectual solutions to accounting and auditing problems. However, instead of fulfilling its key obligations by introducing constructive solutions to the debated issues, the profession has continued to defend its abilities to serve the public interest and has promoted the notion of independence (again) as a means of both silencing its critics and arresting possible misrepresentations of corporate financial statements. Yet the real challenge is an intellectual one and the paper questions the ability of the accounting profession to control the intellectual aspects of its subject matter. Consequently, critics of accounting are likely to construe this failure as a clear signal of the inability of the profession to maintain control over its discipline. Addressing this challenge therefore is of paramount importance for convincing critics that the profession is, in fact, able to self-regulate its affairs.
Publisher: University of Otago
Series: Accountancy Working Paper Series
Series number: 03_03/06
Research Type: Working Paper
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