Abeysekera, Indra, 2005, Accounting: In crisis or ascendancy?, Accounting History, 10(3), 71-87.
Recent corporate failure has challenged the credibility of the accounting profession, leading many stakeholders to question the usefulness of financial reports for decision-making. This paper examines fluctuations in the accounting profession’s authoritative influence over accounting standard setting and financial reporting. It focuses on the period following the collapse of the HIH Group in 2002, with contextual reference to earlier periods. It then outlines the submissions made by the accounting profession, actuaries and regulatory institutions to the Royal Commission Inquiry into the collapse of the HIH Group. These submissions are analysed in relation to the profession promoting functionally defined interests and offering stable compromises, the questioning of the legitimacy of accounting techniques by society and government, and the demand by other constituents that the accounting profession overcome the inequalities that arise from current accounting practice. Finally, the paper offers suggestions as to how the profession can reconstruct itself to regain its lost authority.