The role of accounting theory in the development of accounting principles

D. Coetsee (Department of Accountancy, University of Johannesburg)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 1022-2529

Publication date: 1 April 2010


Accounting theorists agree that no comprehensive theory of accounting has yet been developed. In the absence of such a theory, the question arises whether sufficient accounting principles are created through accounting research. This article acknowledges that accounting principles are not solely the result of academic research and that current accounting practice through its standard‐setting process contributes far more to the development of accounting principles. Hence the role that accounting theory and research should play in developing accounting principles is a vital academic question. The discussion in the article focuses on the normative and descriptive (or the more modern positivistic) approach to the development of accounting theory, the positivistic nature of mainstream accounting research, a possible decision‐useful theory of accounting and the role of interpretative and critical research. All of these developments are beneficial to accounting since they open up accounting to a diversity of research approaches that will collectively improve the status of accounting research and possibly accounting theory. The role that these developments fulfil in creating appropriate accounting principles, however, is debatable.



Coetsee, D. (2010), "The role of accounting theory in the development of accounting principles", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 1-16.

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