The function to study accounting theories is to classify them according to the assumptions they rely on, how they were formulated, and their approaches to explaining and predicting actual events. There are some classification which are pragmatic, syntactic, semantic, normative, positive, and naturalistic approaches. Pragmatic approaches are based on observing the behavior of accountants or those who use the information generated by accountant. Syntactic approaches rely on logical argument, based on a set of premises. Semantic approaches concern how theories correspond to real-world events. Normative theories rely on both semantic and syntactic approaches. Positive approaches test hypotheses against actual event . Positive approaches test hypotheses against actual and the last is Naturalistic approaches consider individual cases and do not try to generalise.
Descriptive Pragmatic Approach
Descriptive pragmatic approach based on continual observation of the behavior of accountants, a theory can be developed from observations of how accountants act in certain situations. The theory can be tested by observing whether accountant do act in the way the theory suggest. This approach is probably the oldest and most universally used method of accounting theory construction. Criticisms of descriptive pragmatic approach:
* does not consider the quality of an accountant’s action * does not provide for accounting practices to be challenged * focuses on accountants’ behaviour not on measuring the attributes of the firm
Psychological Pragmatic Approach
Differetnt with Descriptive pragmatic approach, this approach require theorist to observe users responses to the accountants output ( ex:financial report). There are also some problem with this psychological approach that are : * some users may react in an illogical manner
* some users might have a preconditioned response