Positive Accounting Theory and Science

14 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2011 Last revised: 11 Mar 2012

See all articles by Humayun Kabir

Humayun Kabir

Auckland University of Technology

Date Written: April 8, 2011


This paper examines the development of positive accounting theory (PAT) and compares it with three standard accounts of science: Popper (1959), Kuhn (1996), and Lakatos (1970). PAT has been one of the most influential accounting research programs during the last four decades. One important reason which Watts & Zimmerman (1986) have used to popularize and legitimize their approach is that their view of accounting theory is the same as that used in science. Thus, it is important to examine how far accounting has been successful in imitating natural science and how the development of PAT compares with the three standard accounts of science. This paper shows that accounting could not emulate the success of natural science. Further, the methodological positions of PAT conform to none of the standard accounts of science. Rather, PAT contains elements of all three. Finally, this paper identifies some methodological gaps in PAT.

Keywords: Positive Accounting Theory, Philosophy of Science, Methodological Controversies

Suggested Citation

Kabir, Humayun, Positive Accounting Theory and Science (April 8, 2011). Journal of CENTRUM Cathedra, Vol. 3, Issue 2, pp. 136-149, 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1806038

Humayun Kabir (Contact Author)

Auckland University of Technology ( email )

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