Increasing the value of accounting research: An Italian perspective

Isabella Fadda, Aldo Pavan / Financial Reporting / 2/2017

Accounting research has a speculative and normative tradition. Starting at the beginning of the 1970s, empirical methodologies gained prominence and the boundaries of accounting disciplines have become uncertain. Quantitative and qualitative methods tend to overwhelm the accounting and business objects; often they are only suitable to deal with past and narrow phenomena. Empirical methodologies need reference theories, coming from other disciplines and particularly economics and sociology. In this context, it is questioned if accounting research does exist anymore and if it is relevant to the business world. Some scholars have begun to wonder whether it would be appropriate to revalue normative approaches in order to conduct a type of research which is useful to the society and allows the preservation of specific accounting knowledge. A necessity emerges to come back to the prominence of business and accounting issues over methodologies and sociological theories. Research should be directed to tackle wide and current phenomena, not just the narrow and past ones. Speculative thinking has to be reassessed and empirical findings should be used to strengthen it as starting premises. Explaining phenomena is not enough; empirical research has to go beyond its findings; the emphasis should be shifted to the drawing of policy recommendations.

Accounting research, Empirical methods, A priori research, Research relevance

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