INTERNATIONAL ACCOUNTING RESEARCH: A REVIEW OF ITS ECOLOGY, CONTENDING THEORIES AND METHODOLOGIES
Helen Gernon University of Oregon
R. S. Olusegun Wallace Middlesex University Business School
A purpose of international accounting research (IAR) is to make apparent in different countries the connection between accounting institutions and practices and their environment, a connection that may otherwise be presumed to be unrelated. The art of comparison in IAR is that of observing accounting profiles’ in similar or different settings and situations in order to demonstrate logical connections. With the use of appropriate theoretical perspectives and methodologies in IAR, it is possible to explain why expected behavior in accounting in similar circumstances may be different or why actual behavior in accounting in apparently different circumstances may be similar. In this article, we seek to identify, explain, juxtapose and use some contend-ing approaches in IAR to speculate about how it can be enriched. IAR should balance the emphasis on (1) deeper understanding of national accounting profiles, (2) aspects of cross-national similarities and differences and (3) the prediction or prescription of accounting practices and movements toward global harmonization and collaboration in accounting practices. For almost half a century, IAR has either focused on single-countries or emphasized similarities and differences of limited aspects of accounting among countries. Underlying this research are many theoretical strands not usually explicitly stated. We attempt to make explicit many of these underlying theoretical frameworks in order to provide points of departure for current and future scholars interested in the international field. In short, we attempt to offer new perspectives on IAR to those already familiar with the field and to develop a blueprint for academicians who want to begin researching interna-tional accounting issues.
The authors acknowledge the comments of Maurice Pendlebury, Mike Jones, Bob Parker, Trevor Hopper, Anthony Hopwood, Dale Morse, Bipin Ajinkya, and two anonymous reviewers on earlier versions of this article. All errors or omissions remain the sole responsibility of the authors. Accounting profile has been defined by Wallace and Gernon [1991, footnote no. 5] as “the total picture one forms about the level of accounting in a country from the specification of its accounting environment, profession, education, regulation, principles, and practices.” They further said that accounting, in this context, should include both the public and private sector; and that there are wide variations in the balance of the two sectors between one and another country. As explained later, our understanding of accounting is broader than the accounting in the public and private sectors and includes household and national accounting as well as accounting for the environment.
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