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Beirut Arab University

Accounting Theory

Instructor: Dr. Hatem Shishini

Student: Maya Makieh

Accounting is the language of business. Each entity is essential to record and measure all assets and liabilities for a period of time, in order to assess its financial position and performance based on practices, so, It is necessary to have a good knowledge of accounting-grammar (construction of accounts, conventions, concepts, principles, standards etc.) to interpret accounting information for purposes of communication, reporting, decision making or appraisal. All the financial transactions should be recorded by a profession called accountant. The Accounting is what accountants do and what accountants should be doing". The accountants should have the ability, skills and knowledge for the application of financial principles. But to practice theses principles without error, the accountants need to understand the accounting practices logically which are explained by the accounting theory through a set of concepts, assumptions and methodologies.

History of Accounting
The archaeologists discover evidence that accounting was a feature of early civilizations. There are respectable hypotheses that both writing and arithmetic originated in the need to keep accounts. The origins of capital, in the form of a store of food, are also the origins of accounting. The domestication of livestock and grains started at different sites about 7,500 years ago. Simple tokens were associated with agricultural sites, clay balls of various shapes representing specific goods (12 oval tokes a dozen units of wheat). This was the first representation of inventory, the beginning of the concept of numbers and the first accounting records. Over the next 5,000 years, accounting records advanced from simple to complex tokens representing inventory, to clay tablets, to the development of abstract symbols and cuneiform writing in Sumeria. About 2,200 years ago, the Code of Hammurabi was founded, and metal (silver) became used as a medium of exchange in the Middle. The Chinese used coined money as means of exchange some two thousand years before it appeared in Europe. By 575 B.C., the development of Greek Banking and commercial activities were conducted, Athens started to mint coins. By 50 B.C., Rome developed as a republic, adopted coinage, the abacus, Greek alphabet, "Roman numerals", writing on papyrus, banking & credit. As early as 813 A.D., Italian merchants extend trade from England to the Far East and improve bookkeeping and from these men came many of the fundamentals of the modern double entry bookkeeping. In 1494, the first text book on bookkeeping was written by Fra Luca Pacioli, including the basic concepts of accounting as we understand them today were first published at Venice in Ital . Pacioli said, "that the successful merchant needs three things: sufficient cash or credit, an accounting system that can tell him how he's doing, and good bookkeeper to operate it." Pacioli's accounting theory included both journals and ledgers. The years following Pacioli's treatise were marked by the refinement of the double entry bookkeeping system and by the use of the position of the accountant in the commercial world.

Definition of Bookkeeping
Kohler in his "Dictionary for Accounts" defined book keeping as "the process of analyzing, classifying, and recording transactions in accordance with preconceived plan". These mean that the bookkeeping is concerned with two steps involved in the process of accounting. 1. Recording, grouping of all business transactions correctly and fully according to principles during a period of time in a book known as Journal. 2. Posting all recorded transactions into another book known as a ledger. The subject of bookkeeping includes preparation and maintenance of all records up to the preparation of Trial Balance Statement.

System of Bookkeeping
Bookkeeping can be prepared under two systems, which are Single-Entry system and Double-Entry System. Single-entry system: is similar to a checkbook register and is characterized by the fact that there is only a single line entered in the journal for each transaction. Each transaction is recorded in one column of an account as either a positive or a negative amount in order to represent the receipt or disbursement of cash. This system is considered as incomplete and unsatisfactory accounting system, didn't track asset and liability accounts such as inventory, accounts receivable and accounts payable which must be tracked separately, facilitated the calculation of income but not of financial position and is limited in its ability to provide detailed financial information. There is no direct linkage between income and the balance sheet and the errors may go undetected. Double-Entry System: is based upon exchange value of money. Under this system, we find two aspects in every business transaction and are recorded twice; the receiving aspect on the debit side and the giving aspect on the credit side, the total of debit and the credit columns are finally always equal. This ensures the arithmetical accuracy, correct preparation of accounts, gives the complete information about the business, enables to prevent misappropriation and frauds, reveals result and correct financial position of the business for a period of time, and satisfies external parties.

Definition of Accounting
The American Accounting Association (AAA) defines accounting as "the process of identifying, measuring and communicating economic information to permit informed judgments and decisions by users of the information". The functions of Accounting 1. Recording: accounting systems supply a means of recording past, present and future economic events of the business so as to enable the production of reports or for use in calculations. 2. Classification: accounting systems assist in categorizing data so as to enable the production of reports or for use in calculations. For example, identifying

whether an item is an asset or an expense, or which costs should be included in inventory. 3. Measurement: accounting systems quantify data so as to enable the production of reports or for use in calculations. For example, determining how much profit a business has earned in a year, or the value of a piece of machinery. 4. Summarizing: The accounting is summarizing diverse data into homogeneous group or unit called account through it the accounting communicates economic business to its users. 5. Stewardship: Its basic goal is to report on the resources and obligation of the entity to the owners. 6. Information for decisions: accounting systems provide information which enables users to make decisions about the future. 7. Monitoring and control: accounting systems provide information which enables management to monitor performance, exercise control over many functional areas of business and take corrective action if necessary. 8. Performance evaluation and compensation: accounting systems provide information on the performance of different individuals and parts of the business in order to determine how much managers and employees should be rewarded, according to the terms of their contracts. 9. Communication: accounting systems provide a means by which information is transmitted to users, and is a medium of communication between the firm and the external parties. 10. Income Determination: Income is the basic measure that provides information about the periodic progress of business. 11. Preparation of Balance Sheet: Balance sheet is stated as a statement of financial condition that purports to show the economic resources, obligations and owner's equities of the business at periodic interval of time. 12. Compliance with legal requirements: In accounting is not merely an act of prudence to exercise control, but its necessity arises from the need of compliance with many legal requirements. Accounting Cycle Accounting Cycle is the sequence of steps in preparing the financial statements for a given period. The financial reports are given each period (usually a year) there are a set of steps (cycle) taken each period that result in the reports and preparation for the next period or cycle. The term cycle is used because every period there is a start and an end. The accounting cycle consists of the following steps: 1. Documentary evidence: It is the basis of recording a transaction. 2. Journalizing transactions: It is the recording procedure under double entry book-keeping. 3. Posting to the ledger: It is the process of transferring transactions into various accounts. 4. Balancing of accounts: The classification of transactions into homogeneous groups, called accounts involve offsetting the positive flow against the negative flow of benefits. The remainder is called the balance of the accounts. 5. Preparation of trial balance: A trial balance is the list of the balances of accounts arranged according to debits and credits. This is an apparent proof of the arithmetical accuracy of the balances of the accounts.

6. Adjusting entries: Adjusting entries are the post trial balance operations which involve allocation of various items of revenues and expenses to the appropriate time period. 7. Preparation of final accounts: This involves two steps-the first step is the closing of the temporary accounts (revenues and expenses) which need not be carried forward to the next accounting period. The accounting stage for closing of the accounts is called income statement. The second step involves preparation of balance sheet with the remaining balances of accounts which are not to be closed during the year to the income statement. Financial Statements The three main financial statements are the balance sheet (BS), Income Statement or profit and loss account (P&L), and cash flow statement (CFS). The most common financial statement to be prepared is the BS. The purpose of the three main financial statements is to report the businesss financial performance and position to external users of accounting information. It is important that they only reflect the transactions of the business, and not the transactions of its owner(s). Balance sheet (BS) called the statement of financial position This only tells part of the story about the business .The BS shows: The Net worth that is the difference between a businesss assets and its liabilities and Owners equity is the claim on the business by the owner(s). Equity consists of the original capital invested in the business by the owner(s), and any profits (or other changes in value) that the business has made in the past. Because the BS balances, the net worth and the owners equity should be equal. This is known as the balance sheet equation: Net Worth = Owners Equity We can use the definitions of net worth and owners equity to rewrite this equation as follows: Assets Liabilities = Capital + Reserves Assets = Liabilities + Capital + Income Expenses. Fixed Assets + Current Assets (Long-Term Liabilities + Current Liabilities) = Capital + Reserves We can rearrange this equation to show the sources from which the business has obtained finance, and the uses of that finance: Fixed Assets + Current Assets = Capital + Reserves + Long-Term Liabilities + Current Liabilities. The accounting equation is always true the totals of each of the two sections (assets and liabilities) of the balance sheet should always be the same that means the balance sheet should always be in Balance. However in order to gain a complete financial picture of a business we need to recognize that the financial position of the business is undergoing constant change. Income statement called the Statement of Financial Performance Retained profits are part of the owners equity recorded in the BS. However, the BS does not tell us how the retained profits were earned by the business. The P&L shows the income (revenues) and expenditure of the business over

an accounting period (usually one year). It is a record of the business transactions in the accounting period. The link between the profit and loss account and the balance sheet The P&L explains how this retained profit is earned. The retained profit is then added to reserves in owners equity in the BS. Therefore, assuming there are no changes to any other reserves, the difference in owners equity from the previous BS to the current BS, is equal to the retained profit. So the P&L explains the change in net worth from one BS to the next. Cash flow statement The CFS is used to demonstrate sources and applications of funds over the accounting period. It provides information on the liquidity of the business as it explains what has happened to the cash balance from one BS to the next. The final balance in the CFS is this change in cash figure. The P&L and BS are prepared on the accruals basis; the CFS is prepared on a cash basis. The CFS records actual cash flows into and out of the business throughout the accounting period. In contrast, the P&L records income and expenditure matched to the accounting period in which it is earned or incurred, regardless of whether or not any cash has actually changed hands. Accounting Bases and Policies Accounting bases are the various possible methods of applying accounting concepts to the preparation of financial statements. Accounting policies are the specific methods chosen and applied by the business. There are two bases for accounting of Business Transactions. They are as follows: 1. Accrual Basis of Accounting: It is a system of classifying and summarizing transactions into assets, liabilities, capital, cost and resources and recording thereof. A transaction is recognized when either a liability or asset is created or impaired. Whether payment is made or received is immaterial in accrued basis accounting. The following are the essential features of accrual basis: Revenue is recognized as it is earned. Costs are matched either against revenues so recognized or against the relevant time period to determine periodic income. Costs which are not charged to income are carried forward and are kept under continuous review. Any cost that appears to have lost its utility or its power to generate future revenue is written off as a loss. 2. Cash Basis of Accounting: It is a basis of accounting by which a transaction is recognized only if cash is received or paid. However, accrual basis of accounting is the only generally accepted accounting method for business organizations which are supposed to operate for a long period. Cash basis of accounting is suitable for such business organizations which operate for short term duration.

Branches of Accounting There are four branches of accounting: 1. Financial accounting: Is the oldest, the forerunner and the purveyor of raw materials of the other branches of accounting. The emphasis of financial accounting is on the historical records of by-gone transactions. It's mainly concerned with preparation of two statements; Income statement and Balance Sheet. This information serves the need of all those who are not directly associated with the management of business. Financial accounts are concerned with the needs of users outside the organization. 2. Cost Accounting: is defined as a Branch of accounting dealing with the classification, recording, allocation, summarization and reporting of amount and prospective costs. Cost accounting embodies the analysis and synthesis of cost in such a manner that it is possible to disclose the total cost of production of a commodity or a service (material, labor and overhead costs). 3. Managerial Accounting: It is a branch of accounting which furnishes useful data, through a process of identification, measurement, accumulation, analysis, interpretation and communication of financial information, in carrying out the various management functions such as planning, evaluating, decision-making and controlling the activities of a business enterprise. 4. Social Accounting: is the newest of the accounting innovation. Social accounting has been defined by Seidler and Seidler as "The modification and application by accountants, of the skills, techniques and discipline of conventional.... accounting to the analysis and solution of problems of a social nature. This concept views social accounting as essentially an extension of the principles, practices and particularly the skills, of conventional accounting and accountants. Definition of Theory Theory is a set of interrelated concepts, definitions and propositions that present a systematic view of phenomena by specifying relations among variables, with the purpose of explaining and predicting the phenomena. Accounting Theory Accounting Theory is defined as logical reasoning in the form of a set of broad principles, concepts, assumptions, methodologies and frameworks used in the study and application of financial principles that provide a general frame of reference by which accounting practices can be evaluated and guide the development of new practices and procedures. Accounting theory may be used to explain existing practices to obtain a better understanding of them. Accounting theory and its nature: The nature of any theory is to provide a logical basis for the practice or procedure to which the theory is applied. Accounting Theory is the organized body of knowledge which deals with order, reasons, relationships, objectives and methods involved in the practice of accounting. While accounting was developing as a practical art, it was also evolving a body of theoretical premises. Both the theoretical and practical approaches have contributed to the existing accounting theory.

Under the practical approach, accountants have frequently relied on trial and error as a means to improving accounting practices whereas, the theoretical approach relied on logical, conceptual structure to develop meaningful pattern of accounting practices. The development of accounting practices which employs a problem solving approach. As particular problems occurred in dealing with individual business events practicing accountants would look for separate procedures to solve these specific problems. In other words, the approach adopted in the development of accounting practice can be epitomized as, "Accounting is what accountants do". The development of accounting theory has taken place concurrently with that of accounting practice. The first step in the development of accounting theory is abstraction from the real world of business transactions to make some assumption about them. From these assumptions conclusions can be developed about accounting activities through deductive logic. This procedure would suggest "Accounting is what accountants should be doing". The Process of Theory Construction A theory, according to the definition of Webster's Third International Dictionary, provides "general frame of reference for a field of enquiry". It does not however, give specific prescription for a specific problem. The process of generalization is arrived at through the following stages: 1. Observation: There are many disputes over the way in which theories are constructed. But the construction of most of theories, as also the "laws of nature", begins with observation of the phenomenon. 2. Defining the problem: Careful definition of the problem will provide objectivity or a track through which inquiry may be conducted. If identification of problem is wrong or imprecise it would be very difficult to reach meaningful conclusions. 3. Formulation of hypothesis: It is the preliminary assumption adopted for the explanation of a phenomenon. It is formulated before empirical evidences or facts are gathered. 4. Experimentation or testing the hypothesis: A hypothesis established around the preliminary assumption must be tested for probable conclusions. 5. Verification: The final stage in the formulation of theory is generalization through verification. If the observed phenomenon after repeated trial or experimentation produces the desired result the hypothesis is then said to be confirmed, the logical consistency of the hypothesis is generalized to formulate a theory. A Conceptual Framework Unfortunately, all terms and expressions are found in the accounting literature so it is important to be aware of their meaning if there is to be an understanding of accounting theory. This is evident in the Accounting Research Studies 1 and 3 one refers to postulates, the other to broad accounting principles. In fact, the profession was searching for generally accepted accounting principles which would form the basis of a theoretical foundation of accounting. With the demise of the APB and its ARD the profession turned to establishing a conceptual framework for financial reporting. This was to be the theoretical basis on which to build an accounting theory.

The roots of accounting theory: These three disciplines are perceived to be the roots of accounting theory. 1. Decision theory: The essence of this theory is that decision-making is not an intuitive process but a conscious evaluation of the possible alternatives that leads to best result. It is a logical sequence that involves the following stages: 1. Recognition of a problem that needs decision, 2. Defining all the possible alternative solutions, 3. Compiling all the information relevant to these solutions, 4. Assessing and ranking the merits of the alternative solution, 5. Assessing the best alternative solution by selecting that one which is most highly ranked and, 6. Valuing the decision by means of information feedback. Decision theory is both descriptive and normative. As a descriptive process it attempts to explain how decisions are made, while as a normative process it suggests which decision is to be made. 2. Measurement theory: The term measurement has been typically defined as the assignment of numerals to objects or events according to rules in relation to accounting measurement implies financial attributes of economic events that we call accounting valuation. Measurement theory is normative in character. Money is the most common unit of measure, not because that it is convenient but due to the ability of monetary unit to attach common significance to diverse events and objects which are subjected to accounting measurement. 3. Information theory: The dominant nature of accounting lies in an information communication system. The significance of information theory to accounting lies in the fact that it is a part of the decision-making process that reduces uncertainty and thereby provides a means to improve the quality of decision. Information theory in particular can help accounting to resolve certain important issues such as: What is information? What is the relationship between information and data? What should be accounting information and what should be the system or systems by which to communicate the information? A data becomes accounting information only when it is measured and is bounded by the criteria of relevance, verifiability and freedom from bias. Type of Accounting Theory There are two types of accounting theory that impact the practice of accounting. 1. Descriptive or positive theories: A descriptive theory describes a particular phenomenon as it is, without any value judgment, is concerned with the behavior of the practicing accountants and what they do. This type of accounting theory takes a form in which the researcher analyses and describes the existing mode of accounting. 2. Proposal or Normative Theories: Normative theory concerns how things should be done. The essential feature of this theory is the existence of value judgment. It imposes on the accountant's responsibility of determining what should be reported rather than merely reporting what someone else has requested. In this type of accounting theory, the researcher proposes some alternative way of accounting. For example, a proposal of accounting by the fair value not by the historical cost, for financial instruments from the

viewpoint of the usefulness of accounting information for the decisionmaking of the users of financial statements falls within this type of theory. Approaches of Accounting Theory Non- theoretical or Informal approach: Practical approach: The practical approach is also referred to as the "pragmatic approach", enables the theory to have operational utility, and is essentially a problem solving approach. Its primary objective, as can be seen from the most of the "generally accepted accounting principles", is to find a workable solution to a problem. Authoritarian approach: This approach is sometimes equated with the practical approach because of the common methodology its theoretical grounding based on operational utility under the stamp of approval of the regulatory bodies. The role of authoritarianism is to discriminate between well-founded but conflicting theories. Theoretical or formal approach Inductive approach: The inductive approach is least theoretical in nature because of its basic premise that "accounting is what accountants do". This approach in consequence depends on observations to reach conclusions and the process is "going from the specific to the generalization". Inductive approach depends on the past accounting practices to seek solution for emerging problems, is, expeditious and utilitarian, but one trouble with this approach is that every solution to emerging problem may not be found in the past accounting practices. Deductive approach: The deductive approach to the development of accounting theory begins with establishing the objective of accounting. Once the objectives are established, certain key definitions and assumptions must be stated. The techniques and procedures of accounting are related to the principles, postulates and objectives in such a logical sequence that if they are true the techniques and procedures must also be true. Ethical approach: Ethics is the basis of accounting theory, with justice, fairness and truth being the parameters of financial reporting. Accounting should be based on the following three criteria: 1. The practice of accounting must provide equitable treatment of all interests concerned. 2. Accounting information must be truthful. 3. Accounting must reflect an impartial and unbiased representation of the economic facts. Sociological approach: Under this approach the techniques of accounting should be directed to the development of information for decisions that result in the efficient utilization of resources. The main objective of socioeconomic accounting is to assess the impact of the economic activities of the private firms on the society at large by developing indices for the measurement, internalization and disclosure in the financial statements the ultimate social costs which are not included in the traditional cost structure of the firms.

Mathematical (axiomatic) approach: The mathematical approach to the formulation of accounting theory culminates in the axiomatic formulation of its contents to grasp the logical structure of accounting. In this approach, "mathematical symbols are given to certain ideas and concepts. The frame work is provided in the form of mathematical models utilizing matrix algebra on symbolic logic". Economic approach : While the ethical approach focuses on the concept of fairness and sociological approach on the concept of social welfare, the economic approach to the formulation of accounting theory emphasizes the macro and micro economic welfare of the affected parties arising from the proposed accounting technique.

Eclectic or Combination approach and New approaches Comprising: Eclectic approach: does not profess commitment to any particular methodology; it is mainly the result of numerous attempts by individuals, professionals and other agencies to remove the deficiencies of other to remove the deficiencies of other approaches. Such an approach is particularly useful in the absence of a universally accepted accounting theory. Events approach: The principal argument used in favor of the events approach is that, due to wide ranging use and heterogeneous users of financial statements, accountants should not direct the published financial statements to specified "assumed" group. Behavioral approach: The behavioral approach is concerned with direct evidence of user's reaction to accounting reports as a basis for descriptive generalization about the behavioral aspects of particular accounting techniques and problems such as (1) The adequacy of disclosure, (2) The usefulness of financial statement data, (3) Attitudes about corporate reporting practices, (4) Materiality Judgments and (5) The decision effects of alternative accounting valuation bases. The behavioral approach is essentially "descriptive rather than normative and in the usual application does not contemplate changing user behavior", it only identifies user's behavior. Predictive approach: The predictive approach is directly related to the predictive ability of financial data and is purported to provide a purposive criterion to relate the function of collecting financial data to the task of decision-making.

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) The basic objective in developing structure of accounting theory has been to codify the accounting concepts, postulates and principles. Financial accounting follows a set of ground rules in presenting financial information which are generally known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Accounting Principles Board of USA states: "Generally accepted accounting principles incorporate the consensus at a particular time as to which economic resources and obligations should be recorded as assets and liabilities by financial accounting, which changes in assets and liabilities should be recorded, when these changes are to be recorded, how the assets and liabilities and

changes in them should be measured, what information should be disclosed and which financial statements should be prepared". Postulates Accounting Postulates are basic assumptions concerning the business environment, are established or general truths which do not require any evidence to prove them, are the propositions taken for granted and they serve as a basis for foundation for a theoretical structure. The accounting Postulates are listed as follows: 1. Business Entity (Accounting Entity) A business is separate from its owner. The property or assets that a business owns must be recorded separately from the property that the owner of the business has. This concept enables the proprietor to ascertain the true picture of the business. 2. Going Concern The going concern states that the business is financially viable and will continue to operate for an indefinitely long period of time. 3. Money Measurement Money measurement concept holds that accounting is a measurement and communication process of the activities of the firm that are measurable in monetary terms. 4. Accounting Period Usually accounts are prepared for a period of one year which may be a calendar year or a financial year. Concepts Accounting Concepts are the assumptions underlying the preparation of financial statements, may be the point of origin of some principles, and help explain the "why" of the accounting. Principles Accounting principles are general decision rules derived from the accounting concepts, are general approaches used in the recognition and measurement of accounting events. Accounting principles are characterized as "how to apply" concepts. The accounting principles are listed as follows: 1. Cost Principle All assets owned by the business are recorded on the balance sheet at their cost price or the fair market value at the time the asset was purchased. 2. Dual-Aspect Principle Each and every transaction is split up into two aspects. One aspect relates to receiving the benefit and other aspect relates to giving the benefit, these aspects must be recorded in order to maintain the equality of both sides of the accounting equation. Assets = Liabilities + Capital Or Capital = Assets Liabilities. 3. Accrual Principle This concept states that all revenue transactions are recorded when they occur and not when the cash changes hands and the liabilities are also recorded when they occur and not when they are actually paid. 4. Conservatism Principle The concept of accounting conservatism suggests that when and where uncertainty and risk exposure so warrant, accounting takes a wary and watchful stance until the appearance of evidence to the contrary.

5. Matching Principle Expenses should be matched to the revenue that they helped to produce. That is, they should be reported in the same time period. 6. Objectivity or Verifiability Principle All estimates and measurements in the business must be fair and reasonable. Accounting information should be provided in a manner that is free of bias. This is why historical costs are preferred for determining the value of assets. 7. Consistency Principle Transactions and valuation methods are treated the same way from year to year, or period to period. Users of accounts can, therefore, make more meaningful comparisons of financial performance from year to year. Where accounting policies are changed, companies are required to disclose this fact and explain the impact of any change. 8. Disclosure Principle A business should include in its financial statements anything that might affect the decisions of its shareholders to invest in the company or its lenders to provide loans. In other words, all significant information about the business should be disclosed. 9. Materiality Principle The concept of materiality provides that only material information should be disclosed in the financial statement. An item is material if its disclosure is likely to affect users decisions. Materiality is a very subjective concept as preparers have to judge what they think will be important to different users. 10. Comparability: This implies the ability for users to be able to compare similar companies in the same industry group and to make comparisons of performance over time. Advantages of Accounting Theory Identification of problem area: Accounting Theory helps select the relevant aspect of a phenomenon. Conceptual frame: Accounting theory provides a conceptual framework and gives a general frame of reference for the study of accounting problems. Summarization: Accounting theory as an organized body of knowledge summarizes concisely what is already known about the subject. Uniformity of practice: Generally accepted accounting aims at providing uniformity in accounting practice, the lack of which will greatly reduce credibility of accounting. Predictive ability: Theoretical generalizations can be used to predict further facts. Development of new practice: Accounting operates with the change in social attitude, economic reality and improvement in information science, it may be necessary to replace the existing practice by new one. Limitations of Accounting Theory Due to the utilitarian nature, Accounting theory does not explain all its practices. Accounting Theory is less concerned with deductive generalization than with practical accomplishments. Some of the fundamental assumptions of accounting theory are not realistic (stable value of money).

Accounting theory suffers from internal consistency. The practical nature of accounting does not lend itself to have a general theory of accounting applied to all countries, to all industries and all firms.

Accounting Theory Statements The American Accounting Association (AAA) issued a series of statements, the first of which was published in 1936 under the heading of A Tentative Statement of Accounting Principles Affecting Corporate Reports. In 1941, the AAA published "An Introduction to Corporate Accounting Standards", which took a conscious theoretical approach. In 1966, it published "A Statement of Basic Accounting Theory" (known by ASOBAT), which redirected attention away from the inherent virtues of asset valuation models and toward the decision usefulness of financial statements and in 1977 it published A Statement on Accounting Theory and Theory Acceptance (SATTA). In ASOBAT there is optimism about the possibility of a single accounting theory; in SATTA there is a distinct pessimism about this possibility as they found little common acceptance of the various attempts that had been made to create an accounting theory. Whereas ASOBAT consciously set out to determine parameters for an accounting theory, the SATTA Committee viewed its task as surveying the accounting theory literature. Therefore, despite the statement in ASOBAT that No one really knows what individuals or any organization wants (in respect of accounting information), or what they should want, there was a change in accounting theory formulation to an emphasis of satisfying users wants and this was a major message implicit in SATTA. Objectives of Financial Statements In 1972, the Big Eight firm of Arthur Andersen & Co. (AA) issued a 130-page booklet entitled Objectives of Financial Statements for Business Enterprises. AAs booklet was critical of existing accounting practice, especially its emphasis on conservatism and historical cost as a goal instead of as a method toward a goal. The firm concluded that the overall purpose of financial statements is to communicate information concerning the nature and value of the economic resources of a business enterprise, the interests of creditors and the equity of owners in the economic resources, and the changes in the nature and value of those resources from period to period. One implication of this objective was that assets should be measured at current value, and the firm recommended that unrealized holding gains and losses be disclosed in the income statement. In 1970, The APB published the APB Statement No.4, The Statement treats financial accounting as a continuous history of economic resources and obligations and of economic activities that change those resources and obligations. APB concluded that: The Financial accounting information is used by a variety of users for diverse purposes and the users need similar information. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) was formed in 1971. In 1973, the AICPA formed a special committee, the Study Group on the Objectives of Financial Statements, or the Trueblood Committee, was composed of leading practitioners, academics, and users of accounting information, and was charged with

proposing the fundamental objectives of financial statements to guide the improvement of financial reporting. It was to produce a normative statement, not an inference drawn from practice. The Trueblood Committees report, Objectives of Financial Statements, embraced ASOBATs decision usefulness approach and focused even more specifically on future cash flows: An objective of financial statements is to provide information useful to investors and creditors for predicting, comparing, and evaluating potential cash flows to them in terms of amount, timing, and related uncertainty. The committee said that financial statements should serve primarily those users who have limited authority, ability, or resources to obtain information and who rely on financial statements as their principal source of information about an enterprises economic activities, and it concluded, While users may differ, their economic decisions are similar. Each user measures sacrifices and benefits in terms of the actual or prospective disbursement or receipt of cash. Following in the steps of ASOBAT, the committee thought it desirable to enumerate several qualitative characteristics of reporting: relevance and materiality, form and substance, reliability, freedom from bias, comparability, consistency, and understandability. The committee commented on the fallibility of single numbers in financial statements as well as on the use of financial statements to help achieve social goals. The committee concluded by suggesting: To satisfy the individual preferences of users for predicting and controlling the impact of current events on enterprise earning power, some apparently simple quantifications should be supplemented to represent their actual complexities by disclosing ranges of precision, reliability, and uncertainty. In a broader societal context, the Trueblood Committee stated that the social goals of enterprise are no less important than the economic goals. It concluded that: An objective of financial statements is to report on those activities of the enterprise affecting society which can be determined and described or measured and which are important to the role of the enterprise in its social environment. Accounting standards Accounting Standards are defined as uniform rules for external financial reporting which may be applicable either to all or to a certain class of entity, are prepared by regulators in order to assist both preparers and users of financial statements and they may be viewed as a method of resolving potential conflicts of interest between the various user groups. Formation of Standard Setting Financial accounting regulation was established in the US between 1936 and 1938. The Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) was established by the newly formed Committee on Accounting Procedure (CAP). This brought the standard for accounting practices for all companies throughout the US. In 1953, GAAP was updated and new standards were issued. However, CAP was replaced in 1959 by the APB, or the Accounting Principles Board. APB was established with a research division, the Accounting Research Division (ARD). The ARD first undertook to establish the basic postulates of accounting on which broad principles for business enterprises could be built and intended to establish principles to apply to accounting for all entities. The ARD was charged to provide Accounting Research Studies (ARS) which were to be the basis of the accounting standards, called Opinions. ARS No.1

and ARS No.3 were consciously developed on modernist theory construction lines. Many other terms are employed such as axioms, concepts, assumptions, definitions, propositions, hypotheses, premises, primitives and others. There is very little difference in the meanings of postulates and axioms as both are regarded as self evident truths and cannot be proved; similarly with definitions and primitives. Propositions, hypotheses and premises are also similar in meaning but are generally used in different contexts. They are all conjectural statements. Premises are statements used in (deductive) logic; propositions are used in theory construction and hypotheses are used in research used to establish theories. Unlike the earlier described terms, propositions, hypotheses and premises can be true or false and research is often designed to prove their truth or falsity. Concepts are not true or false but are single or compound terms. The APB suffered from poor management and a weak stance on accounting regulation much like CAP did. In 1973, the APB was replaced by FASB, or the Financial Accounting Standards Board. This organization was created with expanded powers that garnered more respect. Between 1973 and 2009, FASB has issued almost 200 pronouncements. The organization has established the foundation of accounting standards and ethics that are in use today. There is a current move within the US accounting community to change all accounting practices away from US GAAP to the IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards). Types of Accounting Standards Accounting standards may be classified by their subject matter and by how they are enforced. The accounting standards classified as follows: 1. Disclosure Standards. Such standards are the minimum uniform rules for external reporting. They require only an explicit disclosure of accounting methods used and assumptions made in preparing financial statements. 2. Presentation Standards. They specify the form and type of accounting information to be presented. 3. Content Standards. These standards specify the accounting information which is to be published.

Benefits of Accounting Standards The benefits of accounting standards are listed as follows: Reform in Accounting Theory and Practice. Benefits to Accountants and Auditors. To Improve the Credibility and Reliability of Financial Statements Determining Managerial Accountability that help in measuring the effectiveness of management's stewardship, in assessing managerial skill in maintaining and improving the profitability of the company.

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