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Developing the relevance of the accounting academy: The importance of drawing from the diversity of research approaches

  • Jane Broadbent
  • Jeffrey Unerman
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    Purpose – One of the most important considerations in any research project is a compelling research question, the addressing of which will produce socially and/or economically relevant and beneficial insights based on high-quality evidence. The purpose of this paper is to explain that each possible research question requires use of the particular research methods that will produce the high-quality evidence relevant to that question, with the nature of the evidence and the methods required varying from research question to research question. Design/methodology/approach – This discussion paper explores and explains the role and function of interpretive accounting research advocates its adoption. Findings – As the research method needs to be suited to the research question, any restriction imposed on the credible research methods that are considered acceptable severely limits the ability of the accounting academy to serve the needs of society and the economy by addressing the broadest possible range of research questions. From this perspective it is vital for academics to recognize that both positivist/quantitative and interpretive/qualitative methods produce high-quality credible research evidence. Research limitations/implications – Any preconceptions within a nation's accounting academy over the unacceptability of either positivist or interpretive research will damage the health and relevance of that academy in the longer term. Originality/value – The paper argues that both positivist and interpretivist research are needed, drawing on notions of subjectivity, objectivity and inter-subjectivity in the context of the social construction of both accounting information and research data, and in the context of the socially constructing nature of research evidence.

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    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Meditari Accountancy Research.

    Volume (Year): 19 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 1 (October)
    Pages: 7-21

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:medapp:v:19:y:2011:i:1:p:7-21
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    1. Ravenscroft, Sue & Williams, Paul F., 2009. "Making imaginary worlds real: The case of expensing employee stock options," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(6-7), pages 770-786, August.
    2. Tomkins, Cyril & Groves, Roger, 1983. "The everyday accountant and researching his reality," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 361-374, October.
    3. Martijn van der Steen, 2011. "The emergence and change of management accounting routines," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 24(4), pages 502-547, May.
    4. Holthausen, Robert W. & Larcker, David F. & Sloan, Richard G., 1995. "Annual bonus schemes and the manipulation of earnings," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 29-74, February.
    5. Tomkins, Cyril & Groves, Roger, 1983. ""The everyday accountant and researching his reality": Further thoughts," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 407-415, October.
    6. Hines, Ruth D., 1988. "Financial accounting: In communicating reality, we construct reality," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 13(3), pages 251-261, April.
    7. Gallhofer, Sonja & Haslam, James, 1991. "The aura of accounting in the context of a crisis: Germany and the first world war," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 16(5-6), pages 487-520.
    8. Healy, Paul M., 1985. "The effect of bonus schemes on accounting decisions," Journal of Accounting and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(1-3), pages 85-107, April.
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