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Review of the article: Understanding Accounting Research Paradigms: Towards Alternative Methodologies

The paper is written by Rosmila Senik from the University Putra Malaysia, and amounts to 4 pages The paper attempts to understand the differences of the methodologies and the paradigm shift by reviewing the basic assumptions underlying the different sociological research paradigms, the construction of accounting research paradigms and the case for interpretive research approach. The author begins from the dimensions identified by Burrell and Morgan (1979) based on the relationships between the subjective-objective aspect and the views and interpretation of the nature of society.

The first principal dimension is prescribed based on philosophical assumptions related to ontology, epistemology, human nature and methodology. The second dimension is defined by two aspects. One is regulation sociology, which concerns itself with maintaining the status quo, social order, consensus, social integration and cohesion, solidarity, need satisfaction and actuality bringing to unity. The other is radical change sociology, which focuses on structural conflict, modes of domination, contradiction, emancipation, deprivation, and potentiality leading to radical change (Burrell and Morgan, 1979). The above two dimensions create four contiguous but mutually exclusive paradigms: the functionalist, the interpretive, the radical humanist, and the radical structuralist.

The main methodological approaches can be classified as mainstream, interpretive and critical. The mainstream school of thought, known as functionalism in Burrell and Morgans (1979) framework comprises research approaches, such as objectivism, social systems theory, and pluralism. Mainstream researchers adopt a scientific approach and emphasise quantitative methods. An interpretive methodology attempts to describe, understand and interpret the meanings that human actors apply to the symbols and structures within the settings in which they find themselves. Critical or radical research comprises theories. Critical theorists regard populations as consisting of conflicting components and being subject to systems of power that lead to disparity and separation in all aspects of life. Interpretive research focuses more on how accounting is socially created and how the perceptions attached to it preserve the status quo rather than explaining which ideological pressure is influential and which group interest is met by regulation as focused by critical researcher (Hopper and Powell, 1985). The main or primary disagreement between interpretive and critical research is the willingness of critical research to take a particular stance regarding the nature and purpose of the research and its political and societal implications, whereas interpretive research purports to take a neutral stance. The differences between the subjective and objective views of reality and the world lead to different approaches to accounting research; mainstream, interpretive and critical. Contributions of mainstream approaches are significant, but researchers are increasingly adopting the interpretive and critical approaches to overcome the weaknesses of the mainstream.

Cata Roxana Steliana CAIG, seria B