Using Ideas to Advance Professions: Public Sector Accrual Accounting

21 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010


This study investigates a contest of ideas that took place between public sector accrual accounting (PSAA) and Government Finance Statistics (GFS) in the Australian state of New South Wales. The debate, its context and its course is historically analysed from a neo-institutional theory perspective, employing both documentary and oral history sources. Important in PSAA's win over GFS were: phantom images of PSAA success; a dominant politician; discourse control directing attention to the balance sheet; and, normative isomorphism from professionally qualified public sector accountants. Understanding public sector accounting change requires analysis beyond technical change; in this case the actors and their motives overwhelmed the technical.

Suggested Citation

Christensen, Mark and Parker, Lee D., Using Ideas to Advance Professions: Public Sector Accrual Accounting. Financial Accountability & Management, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 246-266, August 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Mark Christensen

Southern Cross University ( email )

Lismore, New South Wales 2480

Lee D. Parker

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne 3000
#61399255542 (Phone)
#61399256524 (Fax)

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