If accounting is a means of communicating information for decision-making, then any attempt to define accounting must draw upon scholarly knowledge of communication and decision-making. This means understanding accounting as a professional jargon, a language, and also as a social and psychological object that influences individual and collective behavior. Only when all of these aspects are accounted for can we hope to achieve a truly descriptive, rather than normative, accounting theory that will stand up to the rigors of academic inquiry.
Here Gaétan Breton provides a comprehensive overview of what accounting really is, not just what it is presumed to be for the purposes of ordinary, day-to-day, practicality-oriented accounting courses. Drawing upon frameworks employed in the human sciences—including those used in sociology, psychology, the communication sciences, and decision theories—Breton builds a multi-faceted theory of accounting. He explains why it should be conceived as a fundamentally social activity, one that puts preparers of financial statements in contact with users—with the state, shareholders, stakeholders, and citizens—in order to help them make economic decisions based on financial information. It is from this position that he analyzes both the behavior of preparers of financial statements (who only relate financial situations) and the behavior of users (in their own analysis, understanding, and decisions). The result is a groundbreaking move towards the first science of accounting widely acceptable within academic circles.
For the fundamental questions it poses to the very heart of accounting studies, this book is a must-read for researchers and practitioners as well as teachers and undergraduate students of accounting.