Methodology in Accounting Research: A Critique of Taxonomy

40 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2011 Last revised: 19 Sep 2011

Date Written: September 2, 2011


In this paper, I argue that the current taxonomy of methodology in accounting research is conceptually inadequate. Drawing from the social sciences, of which accounting is a part, I propose a classification scheme to address this problem. The central theme of this framework is that methodology is not just a single decision in the research process but a series of decisions at the level research purpose, strategy, method and paradigm. My contention is that methodology surveys, several of them recently released will be more fruitful if undertaken at each of these methodology decision levels i.e. strategy should be compared with strategy, method with method and paradigm with paradigm. In essence, a classification scheme that compares (say) an archival or survey method with experimental strategy is inconsistent with this framework. The framework will enhance the knowledge of researchers and research students about the scope and structure of empirical research and encourage them to be open minded about the diverse methodologies for conducting and evaluating accounting research as well as their strengths and limitations. Ultimately, the selection of research methodology should be driven primarily by the research question: a theory-testing research requires a theory-testing methodology, a theory-generating research requires and theory-generating methodology.

Keywords: Empirical research, Research design, Research methodology, Research model

JEL Classification: M40, M41, M49

Suggested Citation

Olalere, Taiwo, Methodology in Accounting Research: A Critique of Taxonomy (September 2, 2011). Available at SSRN: or
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