Accounting and the Truth of Earnings Reports: Philosophical Considerations
AbstractThis paper investigates the philosophical nature of accounting reports of earnings. Standard setters' authoritative pronouncements (conceptual frameworks, GAAP, EITFs, etc.) hold to the realist philosophical view that true earnings reports are ex post representations of some ex ante out-there, preexisting, extra-linguistic real economic increase in the enterprise's wealth. Contra this view, in practice financial accounting executives, in league with investment analysts, routinely engage in earnings management and manipulation in order to satisfy the capital market's insatiable demands for earnings levels which will support and enhance the enterprise's stock market price. The paper considers this state of affairs from Harold Frankfurt's truth, lies and 'bullshit' treatise (2005, 2006). It sees earnings reports as 'short of lies', and so the accountants can only be faulted for their indifference to the truth and for giving the impression that they are trying to present the truth. A poststructuralist philosophical perspective, however, problematizes this conclusion on the basis that accounting language is not a transparent medium but rather is the material used to manufacture accounting 'truths'. It sees accounting 'truths' as contingent upon linguistic doctrinal accounting discourses currently ceded place of privilege by standard setters and upon the subjective considerations of accountants when they produce reports of earnings. The paper concludes that both Frankfurt's perspective and that of poststructuralist philosophers can provide valuable insights into this ironic state of affairs.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal European Accounting Review.
Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.tandfonline.com/REAR20
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Solomon, Jill F. & Solomon, Aris & Joseph, Nathan L. & Norton, Simon D., 2013. "Impression management, myth creation and fabrication in private social and environmental reporting: Insights from Erving Goffman," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 195-213.
- Bertrand Malsch & Yves Gendron & Frédérique Grazzini, 2011. "Investigating interdisciplinary translations: The influence of Pierre Bourdieu on accounting literature," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 24(2), pages 194-228, February.
- Morales, Jérémy & Lambert, Caroline, 2013. "Dirty work and the construction of identity. An ethnographic study of management accounting practices," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 228-244.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Michael McNulty).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.