Position paper: Defeating the ‘paradigm wars’ in accounting: A mixed-methods approach is needed in the education of PhD scholars
DOI: 10.5172/mra.2014.8.1.49
Title: Position paper: Defeating the ‘paradigm wars’ in accounting: A mixed-methods approach is needed in the education of PhD scholars
Journal Title: International Journal of Multiple Research Approaches
Volume: Volume 8
Issue: Issue 1
Publication Date: April 2014
Start Page: 49
End Page: 62
Published online: 30 Jan 2015
ISSN: 1834-0806
Author: Kym Fraserabc
a Barbara Hardy Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia
b Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Brawijaya, Malang, Indonesia
c Centre for Logistics, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
Abstract: In accounting research a clear divide is developing between the traditional (positive) accounting research methods and the use of alternative (interpretive) methods. This is certainly the case with publishing accounting research in ‘so-called’ top-ranked accounting journals in the United States. These ‘paradigm wars’ seem to be based more on egos and producing academic elites than enhancing our knowledge and understanding of accounting. In this paper, the two established paradigms within accounting research, positivist (quantitative) and interpretivist (qualitative), are discussed. While the positivist paradigm is still dominant within accounting research, an increasing number of accounting researchers are adopting interpretive paradigms, situated within both critical theory and constructivist philosophies. This has led to the development of ‘paradigm wars’ within the accounting profession, with quantitative analysis of large data-bases being favoured over other research methodologies. The paper discusses this unhealthy development and the problematic issues surrounding the use of a dominant ‘singular knowledge source’ to explain a dynamic phenomenon such as accounting. The paper is critical of the current American thinking on accounting research methods and strongly advocates the concurrent use of both opposing paradigms within accounting research. This mixed-methods approach, where the benefits of both paradigms are used as complementary elements, will provide better quality research outcomes, and in doing so, bring us closer to the ‘truth.’
Accepted: 21 Mar 2014

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