Financial Accounting Theory & the Reporting Environment

Topics: Decision theory, Economics, Scientific method, Decision making, Balance sheet, Empiricism / Pages: 7 (1592 words) / Published: Sep 17th, 2013
Week 2: Topic 1: Financial Accounting Theory & the Reporting Environment
GHTHH Chapter 2

5. Researchers who develop positive theories and researchers who develop normative theories often do not share the same views about the roles of their respective approaches to theory construction. (a) How do positive and normative theories differ? (b) Can positive theories assist normative theories, or vice versa? If yes, give an example. If not, why not? Normative accounting research makes policy recommendations and is concerned with what should be done in contrast to explaining why current practice is carried out in the manner that it is (positive theory). Normative theorists usually attempt to derive either the ‘true income’ or adopt the ‘decision — usefulness’ approach whereby accounting reports are an input into users’ decisions (e.g., to buy or sell shares, management decisions on the financial wealth of firms, etc.). The major issues are the impact of the changing price environment (prices) and the impact on income, assets, liabilities and equity. As a consequence many normative theorists are measurement theorists who attempt to incorporate the effects of inflation into accounting reports. In this sense they take a semantic viewpoint — relating the figures in the accounting reports to actual objects (assets, liabilities) or events (changes in inflation). To some extent the approach of the IASB is a normative approach. Positive accounting theory was a reversion to testing or relating accounting theories back to the ‘facts’ or ‘experiences’ of the real world. Examples of such research were questionnaires and surveys of bank officers or investors regarding their use of financial reports for decision making; or whether inflation adjusted accounting reports actually aided decision making. Current positive accounting research is aimed at explaining the reasons for actual accounting practices and in predicting the role of accounting data in economic, political and social

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