To change the emphasis of mainstream accounting research from hypothetico-deductivism and technical control assumptions to alternative views and obtain a fundamentally different and potentially rich research insights. Aim 1. To enable accounting researchers to self-reflect on the dominant assumptions that they share and, more importantly, the consequence of adopting this position. a. Limited the types of problems studied b. The use of research methods c. The possible research insights that could be obtained Author believes that such limitations can only become clear when they are exposed to the challenge of alternative world-views 2.
To introduce such alternative set of assumptions, illustrate how they change both problem definition and solution, and offer research which is fundamentally different from that currently prevailing. 3. To argue that, not only are these alternative world-views different, they can potentially enrich and extend our understanding of accounting. Authors intended audience Positivist researchers, Public, Professionals, academics, All researchers Arguments presented to support main point Recent classifications of accounting perspectives
Cooper (19830 ad Hopper ad Powel (1985) rely on the sociological work of Burrell and Morgan (1979) * Classification of accounting literature: 1. social sciences – includes assumptions about: * ontology of the social world (realism v. nominalism) * epistemology (positivism v. anti-positivism) * human nature (determinism v. voluntarism) * methodology (nomothetic v. ideographic) 2. society – characterizes it as orderly or subject to fundamental conflict Burell and Morgan (1979) Four paradigms used to classify accounting theories * Functionalist * Interpretive * Radical humanist Radical structuralist Problems persisted so accounting perspectives are differentiated with reference to underlying assumptions about knowledge, the empirical phenomena under study, and the relationship between theory and the practical world of human affairs. A classification of assumptions “knowledge is produced by people, for people, and is about people and their social and physical environment” Beliefs about knowledge Epistemological assumptions * Decide what to count about acceptable truth by specifying the criteria and process of assessing truth claims * E. . an epistemological assumption might state that a theory is considered true if it is repeatedly not falsifiable by empirical events Methodological assumptions * Indicate that research methods deemed appropriate for the gathering of valid evidence. * E. g. large-scale sample surveys or laboratory experiments that are “statistically sound” may be considered acceptable research methods. Both sets of assumptions are closely related. What is a “correct” research method will depend on how truth is defined. Belief about physical and social reality
Ontology Object of Study * People may be viewed as identical to physical objects and be studied in the same manner * Criticism: people cannot be treated as natural scientific objects because they are self-interpretive beings who create the structures around them (Habermas, (1978) and winch (1958)) How people relate to one another and society as a whole * Every social theory makes assumptions about the nature of human society-is it, for example full of conflict or essentially stable and orderly Relationship between theory and practice
Questions – Purpose of knowledge in the world of practice, How may it be employed to better people’s welfare * Theory may be related to practice in several ways, each representing a particular value position on the part of the scientist (Fay (1975)). Unlike Burell and Morgan, this set of assumptions is used to assess the strengths and weaknesses of alternative perspectives in accounting. This is not an attempt to describe world-views in a value-free, non-evaluatory language