Accounting Theory Is Useful

In: Business and Management

Submitted By ben01
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The usefulness of accounting theory is evident at various levels within the accounting profession and society in general including, standard setters, accounting professionals and users of accounting information. This essay will address two key areas, firstly, a personal reflection on this course and why studying theory is essential for practicing accountants. The second part is a critical evaluation of the conceptual framework and why it is an essential part of accounting literature. Areas evaluated include the purpose and benefits of a conceptual framework, a brief history of it in Australia, principle based versus rules based standards and some criticisms of it are discussed.

Personal reflection

I must admit, when scrolling through the list of courses I have left to complete my degree Accounting Theory did not jump out as one I was eager to enrol in. This is in no small part due to my lack of appreciation of how knowledge of the development of theory can give context and power to understanding changes. Whereas before I was more about practice and ‘getting it done’, it has become apparent that theory generally is an intrinsic element in advancing our understanding of our environment, culminating in improvements in practice. It is not a means of simply explaining or predicting behaviour, nor is it there only to serve as a framework for further inquiry (although these are important benefits of theory). Theory has a much more significant and elegant role to play in accounting than simply to reason and articulate the current status quo. Theory’s importance, relevance and effects have been eloquently summarised by Jonathan Culler (1997) when he writes:

Theory is often a pugnacious critique of common-sense notions, an attempt to show that what we take for granted as 'common sense' is in fact a historical exploration of…...

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