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Discourses surrounding the evolution of the IASB/FASB Conceptual Framework: What they reveal about the “living law” of accounting

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  • Murphy, Tim
  • O’Connell, Vincent
  • Ó hÓgartaigh, Ciarán

Abstract

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) recently published the final version of Chapter 1 of their joint Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting (IASB/FASB, 2010). In this article, we focus on two of the key issues addressed in Chapter 1: stewardship and the definition of the primary user groups of financial statements. To address the discourses surrounding the evolution of Chapter 1, we introduce the concept of “living law” from sociological jurisprudence into accounting scholarship. We first trace the role of stewardship/accountability in the evolution—from antiquity to the present day—of the living law of accounting. We then explore the origin, nature, and implications—from a living law perspective—of the moral traditions associated with stewardship/accountability. Our analysis suggests that stewardship has been, and continues to be, embedded in the living law of accounting—notwithstanding the formal pronouncements of standard setters. We also examine the social accounting project from a living law perspective and we suggest that such an analysis provides new possibilities for addressing core social accounting concerns. We conclude by arguing that, particularly in light of the far reaching impact of the neoliberal agenda, there is an urgent need for scholars in both contemporary “social” and “mainstream” accounting to recognize and build upon their shared living law heritage rooted in the age-old traditions of stewardship/accountability.

Suggested Citation

  • Murphy, Tim & O’Connell, Vincent & Ó hÓgartaigh, Ciarán, 2013. "Discourses surrounding the evolution of the IASB/FASB Conceptual Framework: What they reveal about the “living law” of accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 72-91.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:38:y:2013:i:1:p:72-91
    DOI: 10.1016/j.aos.2012.07.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. O'Dwyer, Brendan & Unerman, Jeffrey, 2016. "Fostering rigour in accounting for social sustainability," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 32-40.
    2. Saori Matsubara & Takahiro Endo, 2016. "The Role of Local Accounting Standard Setters in Institutional Complexity: 'Explosion' of Local Standards in Japan," Discussion Paper Series DP2016-35, Research Institute for Economics & Business Administration, Kobe University.
    3. Barker, Richard & Schulte, Sebastian, 2017. "Representing the market perspective: Fair value measurement for non-financial assets," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 55-67.
    4. Erb, Carsten & Pelger, Christoph, 2015. "“Twisting words”? A study of the construction and reconstruction of reliability in financial reporting standard-setting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 13-40.
    5. Christoph Kuhner & Christoph Pelger, 2015. "On the Relationship of Stewardship and Valuation—An Analytical Viewpoint," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 51(3), pages 379-411, September.

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