IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Functions of accounting -- a discussion


  • Mellemvik, Frode
  • Monsen, Norvald
  • Olson, Olov


From the many accounting objectives which have been suggested, it seems that the intended function of accounting is to reduce uncertainty in control and decision-making processes. However, after conducting a literature search of empirical studies of accounting in action we came to three conclusions about the functions assigned to accounting. First, we suggest that a number of functions are assigned to accounting in action. Second, there is a reciprocal relationship between accounting and the functions assigned to it. Third, there is a complex relationship between accounting and its context. The main function of accounting in a strong organizational context with interdependent organizations is to support legitimization processes, while the main function of accounting in a strong organization with a dependent environment is to support the organization in its exercise of power.

Suggested Citation

  • Mellemvik, Frode & Monsen, Norvald & Olson, Olov, 1988. "Functions of accounting -- a discussion," Scandinavian Journal of Management, Elsevier, vol. 4(3-4), pages 101-119.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:scaman:v:4:y:1988:i:3-4:p:101-119

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Norvald Monsen & Salme Nasi, 1998. "The Contingency Model of Governmental Accounting Innovations: a discussion," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(2), pages 275-288.
    2. Olov Olson & Christopher Humphrey & James Guthrie, 2001. "Caught in an evaluatory trap: a dilemma for public services under NPFM," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(3), pages 505-522.
    3. repec:eee:crpeac:v:25:y:2014:i:8:p:683-708 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:jbrese:v:88:y:2018:i:c:p:527-534 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:crpeac:v:22:y:2011:i:3:p:247-258 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:eee:accfor:v:37:y:2013:i:1:p:67-80 is not listed on IDEAS


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:scaman:v:4:y:1988:i:3-4:p:101-119. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.