Imagined Worlds of Accounting

11 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2007

See all articles by Shyam Sunder

Shyam Sunder

Yale University - School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Date Written: February 1, 2007


Science, engineering, and all other learned disciplines, as well as our socio-political-economic organizations are also artifacts because they are the results of our imagination. Modern corporation - a marvel of organizational engineering - would not be possible without imagination. To run organizations, in the face of the centrifugal forces of divergent self-interest and inherently dispersed information, we need accounting. Accounting, too, is an artifact that arose from human imagination, as a precursor of, or contemporaneously with, mathematics, writing and the civilization itself. We explore the case for imagination in our discipline with respect to its environment, scholarship and instruction. Specifically, accounting scholarship includes examination not only of the way things were and are, but also of how they might be. Why should we imagine alternate scenarios, instead of simply waiting for changes to occur, or being forced upon us? We must do so, because imagination is necessary to bring about innovation in practice and in institutions, so our children might live in a better world.

JEL Classification: M40

Suggested Citation

Sunder, Shyam, Imagined Worlds of Accounting (February 1, 2007). Available at SSRN: or

Shyam Sunder (Contact Author)

Yale University - School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-6160 (Phone)


Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

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