Alternative Perspectives on Accounting in the Public Interest

33 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2013

Date Written: January 13, 2013


Similar to other professional groups, the accounting profession has asserted that it serves the ‘public interest’ (Anderson-Gough, et al. 2002; Robson et al., 1994). However, the definition of exactly what constitutes the ‘public interest’ has been subject to considerable debate and there is no general agreement on its meaning (Baker, 2005; Sikka et al., 1989). The purpose of this article is to illustrate that there have been and continue to be differing perspectives regarding accounting in the public interest. For example, during the last thirty years, the interpretive and critical strands of the academic accounting literature have contributed various reflections regarding the co-opting of accounting rhetoric, philosophical perspectives, and discourse in an age of neoliberalism. A lack of similar research in the ‘mainstream’ accounting literature may indicate that there is a lack of interest regarding accounting in the public interest on the part of mainstream researchers. However, one reason for this difference may involve the definition of the ‘public interest’. This article explores the definition of accounting in the public interest from different perspectives in the accounting discipline.

Keywords: public interest, accounting, social science

JEL Classification: M41

Suggested Citation

Baker, Charles Richard, Alternative Perspectives on Accounting in the Public Interest (January 13, 2013). CAAA Annual Conference 2013. Available at SSRN: or

Charles Richard Baker (Contact Author)

Adelphi University - School of Business ( email )

1 South Avenue
Garden City, NY 11530
United States
516-877-4628 (Phone)

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