Birkin, F., Edwards, P. and Woodward, D.
Changed rules theory and the evolution of accountancy
Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 8, (4), . (doi:10.1006/cpac.1996.0113).
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Many accounting laws, standards and rules are acceptable only within an appropriate broad cultural understanding. In part, such acceptance relies on the insight that there is an inner logic that a few people can discern more clearly than others. Research in accounting and science is then understand-f able as a process of revealing such inner logic. Darwin’s evolutionary theory is an example of an inner logic that has wide cultural influence. Social Darwinism is seen by some as underpinning much positivist theory in accounting. If Darwin’s theory is significantly wrong, then this particular inner logic is incorrect and, so too, much positive accounting theory. This paper outlines a discovery in the fossil record that disproves part of Darwin’s theory in a significant way. Parallels are drawn between related developments in science, accountancy and what is termed here the enlightenment project to make clear just what is at stake. Changed Rules Theory (CRT) is then proposed as the appropriate inner logic with which accounting should now work in lieu of Social Darwinism. CRT is then applied to accountancy to identify implications for the discipline and review the discipline’s evolution, current developments and future, particularly with regard to sustainable development.
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