Publication Details

Lodh, S. C. (2016). Conventional accounting in determining an enterprise's wealth: sign or referent - a theoretical discourse for augmentation. APIRA 2016: 8th Asia-Pacific Interdisciplinary Research in Accounting Conference (pp. 1-31).


Purpose: This paper is an attempt to assess the duality check of wealth determination through corporate reporting using the currently accepted accounting equation and/or conventional accounting. That is, the theory of interest here is to explicate as to whether prevailing accounting equation is adequate to capture all plausible realities in determining absolute economic (or otherwise) wealth of an entity.

Design/methodology/approach: In enhancing a theory of interest and sensitising our argument on conventional accounting, there is a necessity to use methodical discretions; which ultimately 'inform and reflect the implicit epistemology and metaphysics' (Ravenscroft and Williams 2009) of our discipline of accounting. We have used extant (critical) accounting literature to put forward a theoretical discourse on the context of determining an enterprise's wealth using two metaphors - sign to referent (Baudrillard 1983, 1994a, 1994b), in particular, when conventional accounting and/or Balance Sheet approach is considered.

Method/data: An extensive literature both theoretical and practicing issues on accounting are collated from differing journal articles, books (mostly interdisciplinary in nature), websites, accounting standards and conceptual frameworks issued by professional accounting bodies.

Findings: An augmented accounting framework is suggested in order to indicate the gaps that may arise in the prevalent accounting equation. This is inherent in the system when compared through different layers - sign to referent. That is, in a dynamic environment it is suggested that there is a need for augmentation for better representation of economic and social reality through corporate reporting.

Research contributions: We argue that this augmented framework will enhance our understanding within the domain of fair value accounting, confidence accounting, provision of integrated value creating elements and discharging social responsibility, in relation to the missing elements and the nature of corporate reporting. We conclude from our discussion that prevalent accounting standards such as IFRSs (or otherwise) are considered to be signs and have epistemic objectivity. That is, the determination of wealth (in accounting) based on the current signs is, as always, objective. Whilst any different layer is considered other than the sign layer and if a comparison is made pairwise, there will always be differentials/gaps in determining absolute wealth for an entity using signs that exist at any time and space and, therefore, there is a need for augmented thinking. Therefore, we see the determination of wealth for an enterprise in accounting not only is considered to be subjective, it is socially constructed and constructing; and there needs to be an ongoing discourse which should have dialectical force for change.

Originality and value: Not only is the augmented framework applicable for the measurement perspective for corporate financial (or otherwise) reporting; it is also applicable for ideological debate on accountability and sustainability of how we see the improvement of a greater humanity and justice across the world economies through corporate reporting.

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