Discussion of Corporate Financial Reporting: A Methodological Review of Empirical Research: Comment

9 Pages Posted: 30 Sep 2003  

Michael C. Jensen

Social Science Electronic Publishing (SSEP), Inc.; Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)


It is important to avoid using 'perfection' as a criterion to judge scientific papers. Virtually all papers that make important contributions leave many questions unanswered and many even contain errors. It is also important to distinguish the criterion used to judge the scientific process as a whole from that used to judge individual papers. Complex phenomenon are mastered by the gradual development and linkage of models of sub-components of the system that of necessity are oversimplified and therefore only approximations to reality. Mathematics plays an important role in this process but much analysis and progress has to be accomplished in a new area before mathematics can be useful. Mathematics is not the same as 'rigor' and 'analysis' but it is often mistakenly identified as such. The tautologies or definitions chosen by scholars have important effects on the productivity of research efforts; yet these effects are generally unrecognized and unstudied. Indeed, in many quarters it is considered unscientific, or useless or even embarrassing to devote efforts to the consideration of tautologies.

Suggested Citation

Jensen, Michael C., Discussion of Corporate Financial Reporting: A Methodological Review of Empirical Research: Comment. Journal of Accounting Research, Vol. 20, Supplement, 1982. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=428800 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.428800

Michael C. Jensen (Contact Author)

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