Accounting has an ever-increasing significance in contemporary society. Indeed, some argue that its practices are fundamental to the development and functioning of modern capitalist societies. We can see accounting everywhere: in organizations where budgeting, investing, costing, and performance appraisal rely on accounting practices; in financial and other audits; in corporate scandals and financial reporting and regulation; in corporate governance, risk management, and accountability, and in the corresponding growth and influence of the accounting profession. Accounting, too, is an important part of the curriculum and research of business and management schools, the fastest growing sector in higher education.
This growth is largely a phenomenon of the last 50 years or so. Prior to that, accounting was seen mainly as a mundane, technical, bookkeeping exercise (and some still share that naive view). The growth in accounting has demanded a corresponding engagement by scholars to examine and highlight the important behavioural, organizational, institutional, and social dimensions of accounting. Pioneering work by accounting researchers and social scientists more generally has persuasively demonstrated to a wider social science, professional, management, and policy audience how many aspects of life are indeed constituted, to an important extent, through the calculative practices of accounting.
Anthony Hopwood, to whom this book is dedicated, has been a leading figure in this endeavour, which has effectively defined accounting as a distinctive field of research in the social sciences. The book brings together the work of leading international accounting academics and social scientists, and demonstrates the scope, vitality, and insights of contemporary scholarship in and on accounting and auditing.
Christopher S. Chapman is Professor of Management Accounting, Imperial College London. David J. Cooper is CGA Professor of Accounting at the Universityof Alberta. Peter Miller is Professor of Management Accounting, London School of Economics and Political Science.