Traditional Accountants and Business Professionals: Portraying the Accounting Profession after Enron

SoMWP Working Paper No. 0901

33 Pages Posted: 24 Jun 2011

See all articles by Christopher J. Napier

Christopher J. Napier

University of London - Royal Holloway College - School of Management

Garry D. Carnegie

RMIT University

Date Written: January 1, 2009

Abstract

Society’s perception of the legitimacy of the accounting profession and its members is grounded in the verbal and visual images of accountants that are projected not only by accountants themselves but also by the media. The paper uses the critical literature on stereotypes to examine how books written for a general readership on Enron and other corporate failures portray accountants and accounting, and the implications their authors draw for corporate governance and the survival of the financial system. The paper explores how commentators have analysed the changing activities of accountants (including the rise of consulting) and have contrasted the personalities of, “founding fathers,” of the US accounting profession with their early 21st-Century successors. The paper concludes that changing stereotypes of accountants may be evidence of, “negative signals of movement,” for the accounting profession, threatening accounting’s ongoing professionalization project.

Keywords: Accounting profession, Enron, stereotypes, professionalization, auditing, popular management

Suggested Citation

Napier, Christopher John and Carnegie, Garry D., Traditional Accountants and Business Professionals: Portraying the Accounting Profession after Enron (January 1, 2009). SoMWP Working Paper No. 0901. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1871879 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1871879

Christopher John Napier (Contact Author)

University of London - Royal Holloway College - School of Management ( email )

Egham
Surrey, Egham TW20 8DG
United Kingdom

Garry D. Carnegie

RMIT University ( email )

124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne, 3000
Australia

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