Publication Details

Ryan, J. B. (2012). Canning's legacy. International Journal of Critical Accounting, 4 (4), 401-432.


The motivation for this paper is to evaluate the legacy of John B. Canning to financial accounting, particularly regarding his attempt to identify the qualitative, empirical property underlying the accounting elements for measurement of periodic profit. Canning's adaptation of Fisher's (1906) concept of individual real income to deduce enterprise earnings together with the underlying concept of services is explored for its impact on profit measurement. Fisher (1930b), in his review of Canning's book, provides a clear description of profit as an 'adjusted cash flow'. In endorsing this approach Canning (1933) also, in effect, endorses much to be found in conventional accounts. Canning's (1929a) break with economic value was announced in a paper which appeared before publication of his book, but which was written after the book was completed. Canning's experience casts light on the current debate on the conceptual framework definitions, and measurement in financial reporting. The interest and excitement his work continues to generate is an enduring contribution to accounting.



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