Book Reviews: Modern Accounting Research: History, Survey, and Guide
Young, Stephen J., The Accounting Historians Journal
The book, Modern Accounting Research: History, Survey and Guide, by Richard Mattessich, contains a broad survey of academic accounting literature. Thus, it provides a valuable collection of material for those wishing to review the development of recent accounting thought.
The book is divided into six major parts. Each contains an introduction by Mattessich and several articles addressing a major field of accounting research. The work also includes an index of the names of accounting academics.
The first two sections of the book deal with the development of theories and methodology in accounting research. The first part is a general introduction to the field of accounting research. It consists of an article discussing the "Scientific Approach to Accounting" written by Maltessich himself.
The second section considers concepts of theory construction and the roots of accounting thought. It addresses the concepts of Thomas Kuhn(1) on scientific revolutions and the period in which his thought influenced social sciences, including accountancy. The section also looks at the relationships of accountancy to economics and finance, and the socioeconomic consequences of standard setting.
After these Introductory sections, the last four sections each address a major field of continuing research in accountancy. The third section deals with the controversy between positive and normative research and contains several papers discussing or using the positive accounting methodology. The section is closed with two papers addressing public choice and economic interest in the standard-setting process.
The fourth section deals with the subjects of agency and information economics. In order to assist the reader in understanding the influence of this literature, there are several survey-type papers that cover the fundamentals of this subject area.
The fifth part of the book deals with the empirical/statistical literature in accounting. It is composed of four papers dealing with a broad array of topics ranging from market studies to behavioral accounting research.
The final section deals with "other" issues. This omnibus section contains papers on managerial accounting, auditing, and non-business (e.g., a survey paper written by William Vatter) accounting.
Appended to the book is a comprehensive index of North American accounting academics (as of 1984). This is an invaluable, although somewhat dated, addition to the book.
There are at least two principal concerns about the monograph. First, one can argue that "depth" has been sacrificed for "breadth. …