R. J. Chambers and the AICPA's Postulates and Principles Controversy: A Case of Vicarious Action

Accounting Historians Journal, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 101-132, 2015.

Posted: 14 Feb 2014 Last revised: 17 Mar 2016

See all articles by Martin Emanuel Persson

Martin Emanuel Persson

Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario

Christopher J. Napier

University of London - Royal Holloway College - School of Management

Date Written: February 12, 2014

Abstract

This study seeks to provide an account, drawing on previously unexamined archival material, of some of the events surrounding the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA) postulates and principles controversy in the late 1950s and early 1960s. We examine these events from the viewpoint of Raymond J. Chambers, one of the most prolific and polarizing figures in accounting academia. The study relies on items of correspondence from the R. J. Chambers Archive and utilizes the term “vicarious action”, taken from Actor-Network Theory, to describe Chambers’ inability to influence the deliberations on accounting postulates and principles at the AICPA directly, and hence his need to influence the deliberations indirectly through intermediaries such as Maurice Moonitz. Chambers made three separate attempts to vicariously align the AICPA’s position on postulates and principles with that of his own, but all three of these attempts proved unsuccessful.

Keywords: R. J. Chambers, Maurice Moonitz, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Vicarious Action, Accounting History, Actor-Network Theory

JEL Classification: B31, M40, M41, M49

Suggested Citation

Persson, Martin Emanuel and Napier, Christopher John, R. J. Chambers and the AICPA's Postulates and Principles Controversy: A Case of Vicarious Action (February 12, 2014). Accounting Historians Journal, Vol. 42, No. 2, pp. 101-132, 2015.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2395017 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2395017

Martin Emanuel Persson (Contact Author)

Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario ( email )

1151 Richmond Street North
London, Ontario N6A 3K7
Canada

Christopher John Napier

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

Egham
Surrey, Egham TW20 8DG
United Kingdom

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