A note on methodological parallels between accounting and economics

Once upon a time, positive accounting theory -- a variant of positive economic theory -- was radical. Watts and Zimmerman, whose book Positive Accounting Theory now is the most standard fare in accounting PhD programs, had a great deal of trouble getting published in the early 1970s. Now, research in accounting must at the very least be highly quantitative, or it simply is not viewed as scholarly by the key players in academia. A parallel may be developing, however, between the progression of acceptable research methodologies in accounting with that in its elder sister, economics. Indeed, the currently pejorative term "mere" could even be dropped from the orthodox mantra of "mere descriptive research" someday in the not so distant future. This article explores the parallel.