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Accounting Historians Journal Volume 38, Number 1 June 2011 pp. 31-56

Frank A. Badua

Gary John Previts


Miklos A. Vasarhelyi

TRACING THE DEVELOPMENT OF ACCOUNTING THOUGHT BY ANALYZING CONTENT, COMMUNICATION, AND QUALITY IN ACCOUNTING RESEARCH OVER TIME Abstract: This paper analyzes the longitudinal development of accounting thought by characterizing the content of accounting research over several decades (1963 to 2003). The paper also investigates the interaction among accounting scholars and examines the relationship of research quality, topical coverage, methodological tools, and citation behavior. Thus, this analysis describes how accounting research has evolved, both in its content and in the way it has been used and perceived by its adherent scholars.

INTRODUCTION The motivation for this study is to improve our understanding of the relationships exhibited in academic research over a period of several recent decades. This paper represents a study of accounting research as embodied in three scholarly accounting journals (Contemporary Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting Research, and The Accounting Reviev\^) as related to the objective of improving our understanding of this literature by employing a set of taxonomic properties in our analysis about the content and context of said literature. Further, this study characterizes the content of accounting research, the communication of this research through the interaction among accountAcknowledgments: The authors would like to thank Dr. Richard Fleischman and the reviewers for their help on this paper. The paper is dedicated to Don Ouirino Badua y Espero (1928-2011) who taught his son to love history for the beauty of its stories and the wisdom of its lessons.


Accounting Historians Journal, June 2011

ing scholars, and how both this content and this interaction help define research quality. By this characterization, the paper seeks to provide a conception of how accounting research has evolved over time based on the efforts of those who produce, use, and evaluate it. The paper also seeks to improve our understanding of the topical and methodological content of accounting literature and in this way contributes to the literature of the history and development of accounting thought. The content of accounting research is described by a taxonomic analysis of its topical and methodological characteristics. Taxonomic (Greek "taxis" -t- "nomia" = arrangement -i- method) analysis is a method of systematically classifying and arranging items according to their attributes. Therefore, the content of accounting research is defined by classifying the artifacts of the research; that is, papers published in scholarly journals according to what topics these papers cover and what methods their authors used to gather data and arrive at conclusions. The interaction among accounting researchers is characterized by citation analysis. Citation analysis identifies which research papers have been referenced in other research papers, and thereby endeavors to trace the development of ideas, to chart the interdependencies between groups of researchers, and to evaluate the influence of particular research papers, organs, or paradigms. Finally, this paper explores the possibility of a new measure of research quality based on the content of research over several years and the citation patterns that have developed over time. This measure would be comprised of a component measuring the diversity of the research content and a component measuring the degree of integration of that research. As discussed later, both these characteristics may be correlated with research quality Taxonomic Analysis Defined and Exemplified: The philosopher Thomas Kuhn [1962, pp,16-17] proposed the idea that all research is characterized by "intertwined theory and methodological belief," Therefore, one way in which research...
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