Title: Positive accounting theory: theoretical and critical perspectives

Authors: Donatien Avelé

Addresses: Faculty of Administration, University of Moncton, Moncton (New Brunswick) E1A 3E9, Canada

Abstract: This article presents the evolution of positive accounting theory since its founding works by Littleton (1953). From the reasoned practice to Chambers' (1966) normative theory and the PAT initiated by Watts and Zimmerman (1978, 1979), the article discusses the tug of war through multiple reviews of the main approaches that are reported in accounting research in the past few decades. The study then proceeds to a comparative analysis of the two theories (normative and positive) that have been the subject of numerous criticisms. Furthermore, one of the main goals of this study is to examine the possibility of reconciling the PAT and the agency theory in the allocation of indirect manufacturing costs. Overall, this paper shows that the PAT is the one that is the most controversial in the history of accounting theory.

Keywords: positive theory accounting; agency theory; indirect costs; manufacturing costs; normative accounting theory; critical accounting.

DOI: 10.1504/IJCA.2014.067244

International Journal of Critical Accounting, 2014 Vol.6 No.4, pp.396 - 415

Published online: 14 Feb 2015 *

Full-text access for editors Full-text access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article