Positive Accounting Theory: A Ten Year Perspective
Posted: 6 Sep 2006
This paper reviews and critiques the positive accounting literature following the publication of Watts and Zimmerman (1978, 1979), The 1978 paper helped generate the positive accounting literature that offers an explanation of accounting practice, suggests the importance of contracting costs, and has led to the discovery of some previously unknown empirical regularities. The 1979 paper produced a methodological debate that has not been very productive. This paper attempts to remove some common misconceptions about methodology that surfaced in that debate. It also suggests ways to improve positive research in accounting choice. The most important of these improvements is tighter links between the theory and the empirical tests. A second suggested improvement is the development of models that recognize the endogeneity among the variables in the regressions. A third improvement is reduction in measurement errors in both the dependent and independent variables in the regressions.
Keywords: Positive theory, accounting, accounting choice, methodology
JEL Classification: M40, M41, M46, M49, L22
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation