Problems and Prospect Business Education in Nigeria Colleges of Education

Topics: Accountancy, Accounting software, Management accounting Pages: 17 (5480 words) Published: June 13, 2011
Semantic Modeling in Accounting
Education, Practice, and Research:
Some Progress and Impediments
William E. McCarthy, Arthur Andersen Alumni Professor
Department of Accounting, Michigan State University

Published in: Conceptual Modeling: Current Issues and Future Directions, Editors: P. P. Chen, J. Akoka, H Kangassalo, and B. Thalheim. Springer Verlag, Berlin and Heidelberg, 1999, pp. 144-53. All of the judgments of past, ongoing, and future research projects and of the ultimate viability of Entity-Relationship and REA commercial implementations in accounting represent the informed conclusions of the author alone  

Semantic Modeling in Accounting Education, Practice, and Research: Some Progress and Impediments
William E. McCarthy, Arthur Andersen Alumni Professor
Department of Accounting, Michigan State University
1.0 -- Introduction
In late 1979, the first Entity-Relationship (E-R) Conference was held at UCLA in December, and the first semantic modeling paper in the financial systems domain was published in The Accounting Review in October. Those two papers by McCarthy (1979; 1980) were actually based on his doctoral dissertation work completed in 1977 at the University of Massachusetts where a computer science professor -- David Stemple -- had introduced him to the groundbreaking E-R paper of Peter Chen (1976) that was published the prior year in the initial issue of ACM Transactions on Database Systems. An important additional component of that same thesis work was the development of a normative accounting data modeling framework, something which needed more theoretical development at the time of the first E-R Conference. By 1982 however, McCarthy had completed that additional work, and he followed the first E-R paper and conference presentation with a more general semantic theory of economic phenomena in business organizations - the REA accounting model (McCarthy, 1982).  

The first and most basic form of the REA semantic framework is portrayed in the figure. This basic pattern has been extended both up to the more abstract level of enterprise value chains and down to the more specific level of workflow tasks in more recent work by Geerts and McCarthy (1997). However, its conceptual core remains the template portrayed here, and it is those components that will be the subject of this paper. Readers may see that the model has three types of primitive entities (economic resources, economic events, and economic agents with economic units being a subset of agents) and four types of primitive relationships (stock-flow, duality, control, and responsibility). The ternary control relationship is often split into two binary associations for simplicity sake. The acronym REA derives from the left-to-right economic entity constellation of resources-events-agents. In the 16 years since 1982, REA theory has expanded considerably in accounting research, practice, and education (Dunn and McCarthy, 1997), and the original paper was honored by the Information Systems Section of the American Accounting Association with its bestowal of the first Seminal Contribution to the Accounting Information Systems Literature Award in 1996. However, the rate of this progress and the assimilation of REA work into the mainstream ideas of accounting have not been without problems and impediments. This is probably true of most theoretical and practical changes that an overtly semantic approach (like E-R modeling) causes, but these problems have been especially prominent in the very traditional discipline of accounting. This is a field whose practitioners are noted for their emphasis on conservatism, whose researchers are dismayingly preoccupied with experimentally rigorous evaluation of present methods to the exclusion of relevance and new ideas, and whose students are noted for their affectation with precision and numerical...
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