Large-scale financial scandals in business have increased public awareness of fraud and the need for forensic accounting (FA) services. Despite a steadily growing body of knowledge of FA, Huber (2012) argued that the term FA is ill defined. This paper aims to support the development of a nomenclature for FA by gathering evidence on the prevalence of the term in the Southern Hemisphere. Hence the authors ask how, when, where and in which context the term FA appears. In analysing the evidence gathered, the authors also aim to identify changes to the use of the term. Finally, they intend to make suggestions for future development and research relating to the term to advance knowledge. The authors also aim to suggest a definition for the term FA.
To obtain evidence to support the development of an accepted definition for FA, a rigorous search of the literature is performed, using a structured review framework.
The findings of this paper demonstrate the prevalence of the term FA in publications in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, but that limited publications from SA create opportunities for researchers from emerging economies to publish in the FA field. This meta-analysis shows among others a strong focus on the role of FA in fraud prevention and increased reliance on websites (in contrast to reliance on academic literature) for information on FA. This research identifies changes to the use of the term and concludes that the narrow definition of FA prevails. Delivering on the third objective of this paper, the authors provide insights into future developments in FA and find that a need exists to explore FA in a much wider context.
The research is limited to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Limitations exist in that the authors focused particularly on high-quality journals and excluded other journals from our search. As they were specifically searching for the use of the term “forensic accounting”, they excluded any other term, e.g. fraud auditing, from the research. Future research may well expand the search terminology.
Without an established definition of the commonly used term forensic accounting, the general public will be confused about the services that can be expected from forensic accountants. To date, FA definitions have been formulated mostly intuitively; however, if FA is to grow as a field, an accepted definition needs to be formulated.
FA offers a new area of growth in the accounting field. Clarification of exactly what is meant by the term has implications for future careers in the field of accounting.
To date, no study of this nature has been undertaken anywhere in the world.
An earlier version of the paper was presented at the APIRA Conference in Melbourne and further at the Fourth Forensic Accounting Symposium at Bond University, Australia in 2016. The authors would like to thank the conference participants at the above conferences for their helpful comments on the paper.
Botes, V. and Saadeh, A. (2018), "Exploring evidence to develop a nomenclature for forensic accounting", Pacific Accounting Review, Vol. 30 No. 2, pp. 135-154. https://doi.org/10.1108/PAR-12-2016-0117Download as .RIS
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