Accounting Thought and Practice Reform: Ray Chambers’ Odyssey

Routledge New Works in Accounting History, 2019

Posted: 22 Apr 2019

See all articles by Frank Clarke

Frank Clarke

University of Newcastle, Australia - Department of Accounting & Finance

Graeme Dean

The University of Sydney - Discipline of Accounting

Martin Emanuel Persson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Date Written: March 22, 2019

Abstract

Raymond John Chambers was born just over a century ago on 16 November 1917. It is more than fifty years since his first classic, Accounting, Evaluation and Economic Behavior, was published, more than forty since Securities and Obscurities: Reform of the Law of Company Accounts (republished in 1980 as Accounting in Disarray) and over twenty since the unique An Accounting Thesaurus: Five Hundred Years of Accounting. They are drawn upon extensively in this biography of Chambers’ intellectual contributions, as are other of his published works. Importantly, we also analyze archival correspondence not previously examined. While Chambers provided several bibliographical summaries of his work, without the benefits of reviewing and interspersing the text with correspondence materials from the Chambers Archive this study would lack an appreciation of the impact of his early childhood, and nuances related to his practical (including numerous consultancies) and academic experiences. The ‘semi-biographical narrative’ codifies article and editorial length exercises by the authors drawing on parts of the archive related to theory development, measurement and communication. Other parts are also examined. This allows us to respond to those critics who claim his reforms were naive. They further reveal a man of theory and practice, whose theoretical ideas were solidly grounded on observations from his myriad interests and experiences. Many of his practical experiences have not been examined previously. This approach and the first book-length biography differentiates this work from earlier analyses of Chambers’ contribution to the accounting literature. We provide evidence to support the continued push for the reforms he proposed to accepted accounting thought and practice to ensure accounting is the serviceable technology so admired by Pacioli, Da Vinci and many other Renaissance pioneers. It will be of interest to researchers, educators, practitioners and regulators alike.

Keywords: R. J. Chambers, Biography, University of Sydney, Accounting History, Accounting Theory, Accounting Measurements, Continuously Contemporary Accounting

JEL Classification: B31, M40, M41, M49

Suggested Citation

Clarke, Frank and Dean, Graeme and Persson, Martin Emanuel, Accounting Thought and Practice Reform: Ray Chambers’ Odyssey (March 22, 2019). Routledge New Works in Accounting History, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3358471

Frank Clarke

University of Newcastle, Australia - Department of Accounting & Finance ( email )

University Drive
Callaghan 2308, New South Wales
Australia
+61 2 434 84136 (Phone)
+61 2 434 84101 (Fax)

Graeme Dean

The University of Sydney - Discipline of Accounting ( email )

H69 Economics and Business Building
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
00 612 692 3520 (Phone)
00 612 692 4202 (Fax)

Martin Emanuel Persson (Contact Author)

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( email )

1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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