With rapid development of the economy, the economic growth mode is transforming gradually and continuously. Both the industrial revolution and rapid expansion of the Internet economy have facilitated the financial accounting to be developed and improved correspondingly. In 1976, Michael C. Jensen put forward that the new theory with regard to the state of accounting research which has challenged the standardized accounting research. Also, this significant consideration has caused a great response and led a large number of scholars in accounting field to move forward ieference between the descriptive and prescriptive methods in research. Following this, the reasons for the researchers are likely to shift one method to another will be analyzed. Finally, the contributions made by Paton, Littleton and Chambers to the development of the accounting theory is planned to be discussed.
The difference between descriptive and prescriptive methods of research
In terms of Michael Gaffikin (2005), the consideration that 'accounting is a measurement-communications process' is recognized by many people. In the accounting research, the selection and design of the research approaches, the account regulations and the reactions to these regulations are the three major themes in terms of Richard Laughlina (2007). There are two major research methods which dominated the field, which are descriptive and prescriptive methods.
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Firstly, according to the Margarete Sandelowski (2000), the descriptive research is where is being researched or doing, and then to improve and perfect the theories. Also, the considerate on of this kind of research is to both frequencies and averages, and it is able to assistant the researchers to achieve a better understanding of a topic. However, due to the descriptive research is to explore the existing phenomena, which suggests that the details or accurate of the fact is difficult to be known. Otherwise, the opposite of another type of the research manner is called to be the prescriptive method. Madalina Olteanu (2006) stated that the prescriptive method is able to provide the measure of 'where to go next'. However, it is difficult to design and practice. It is always worked together with the descriptive method (Madalina Olteanu, 2006).
These two major research methods have both common and obvious difference with to the deductive or heuristic side accordingly. Describer`s perceptions, inclinations and sensibilities always supports the descriptions in the certain scenario (Silverman, 2000). Thirdly, the target of data collection in the descriptive method is to conduct the rend describe them in a quite depth and details. In addition, in terms of the Burns (2000), due to the prescriptive method is difficult to be applied compared with the most easily comprehensible descriptive method, hence, it is usually to be decided or selected subsequently.
In short, the different research situation is likely to determine that which kind of research methods is much more appropriate and effective to develop the theories.
The reason that researchers might shift from method to another
In this paragraph, the reasons for the researchers might change the research methods from one to another is likely to be analyzed. It is quite serious to consider the most appropriate research methods when obtain a research opportunity. Research methods are the tools to assist the researchers to collect data and valuable information (Catherine Dawson, 2007). Hence, research methods play the quite important role in the research, particularly in the development and improvement of the financial accounting field (Henderson, Peirson & Harris, 2004). Additionally, the choice of the
Martyn Shuttleworth (2008) put forward that there are a large number of elements is required to be considered in the selection of the research methods, for example, the research question, ethics, budget and time. For example, in the financial accounting field, with a long-term of accounting practices, it is able to guide the development and innovation of the accounting theory and even the research methods (Godfrey, Hodgson, Holmes & Tarca, 2006)). This is also able to be explained as the research method with regards to the accounting theory is based on the accounting practices from perceptual knowledge to rational methods, and then to the precision of ally speaking, the researchers consider that which research method is most appropriate usually in terms of the originally research situation. However, the emphasis should be put on the continuous transformation of the research environment which is largely possible to change the primarily choice of the methods. Thus, in the same study, it is quite possible for the researchers to change the methods from one to another. In addition, the business ethic issue in the research process is an important aspect which is worthy to be mentioned and discussed. Although research methods are merely a sort of tool to gathering the research data, the different and diversified manners might generate offence to the subjects of the research (Saunders, M., P. Lewis & A. Thornhill ,2006). Usually, this is related to the ethic issue in the business when the research is conducted, such as the information disclosure and others (Velasquez, 20search subjects and other similar reasons. Otherwise, the design and the selection of the research methods should also take into account the business ethic issue which is equally significant to the research approach and the results.
The contributions by researchers such as Paton, Littleton and Chambers to accounting theory
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The development, innovation and improvement of the accounting theory are contributed by a large number of researchers with their hard efforts and valuable achievement (Deegan, 2009). In this section, the contributions made by Paton, Littleton and Chambers are expected to be emphasized and discussed.
The accounting thought and theory was closely related to the economics is one of the most significant feature of the twentieth century in the accounting field. The researchers in the accounting field also were named as economist. For example, Paton wrote a book named Accounting Theory as the members of the economic departments. William Paton is the significant researcher in the accounting field. For example, he is the well-known forerunner with regards to the entity theory. In 1922, he put forward his theory in the book Accounting Theory, which has not been completely accepted for a long period in the United States. But his theory concerning the corporation is likely to play an increasingly important role in the social and economic affairs has been widely accepted and realized. The accounting theory from the United States has plaard and influenced a lot in the following long time. In additional, the well-known An Introduction to Corporate Accounting Standards is the co-work of the Paton and Littleton, which has generated a great impact in the accounting field.
A C Littleton has done substantive studies in the building of the accounting standard which impel the development of the accounting theory considerably. He indicated the reasons with regards to the appearance and quick expansion of the double entry in the accounting field (Michael Gaffikin, 2005). His research was on the basis of the seven antecedents in the accounting field in order to prove the inevitability of the
works and thought philosophers of science to achieve the greater intellectual rigour in accounting. In this period, a large number of publications and books were created, which represent the intellectual heritage in the development of the accounting. Chambers` work covered many aspects of accounting theory and related fields (Michael Gaffikin, 2005). Not only the intellectual rigour to accounting that has been mentioned above, but also the Chambers has put forward the continuously contemporary accounting (CoCoA) theory which is likely to be discussed below. Michael Gaffikin (2005) also mentioned that Chambers advances the CoCoA system in order to resolve the dispute concerning the selling price issue. CoCoA is the representative contribution that Chambers made to the accounting field.
In conclusion, financial accounting theory is transforming consistently with the development of the social economy and the research innovation. The application of the appropriate research method to facilitate the improvement the accounting theory is inevitable. Each theory is for the purpose of guiding the practice in the real work. Hence, the development and innovation of the accounting theory is better with the circumstance but also include the consideration of the enhancement of the real practice.