HCBE Faculty Articles

Title

Persuasion as a Prelude to Proof: Theory Acceptance in Accounting Research

Document Type

Article

Date

2013

Publication Title

Advances in Business Research

Volume

4

Issue

1

First Page

54

Last Page

67

Description

In his 2013 presidential scholar address to the American Accounting Association,
Michael Jensen, an early author of agency theory, makes an appeal for a new language and new paradigm to introduce his proposed theory of integrity in accounting. In the 1970s, agency theory was promoted over other theories because it demonstrated empirical evidence of the accounting procedures actually used in practice, compared to those that “should” be used according to established rules (see Jensen and Meckling, 1976). Contrarily, in this paper, we show scientific theories (Latour, 1987), and in particular accounting theories, are actually accepted by a larger persuasion than just the empirical evidence. The early empirical evidence on agency theory was often not even statistically significant. As Jensen now demonstrates, consistent with Latour (1987), this persuasion ...

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