Accountants' Truth: Knowledge and Ethics in the Financial World (Paperback)
  • Accountants' Truth: Knowledge and Ethics in the Financial World (Paperback)

Accountants' Truth: Knowledge and Ethics in the Financial World (Paperback)

Paperback 208 Pages / Published: 24/03/2011
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Accounting is the language of business, increasingly standardized across the world through powerful global corporations: a technical skill used to reach the correct, unquestionable answer. Yet, as recent corporate scandals have shown, a whole range of financial professionals (auditors, bankers, analysts, company directors) can collectively fail to question dubious actions. How can this be possible? To understand such failures, this book explores how accountants construct the technical knowledge they deem relevant to decision-making. In doing so, it not only offers a new way to understand deviance and scandals, but also suggests a reappraisal of accounting knowledge which has important implications for everyday commercial life. The book is based on interviews with chartered accountants working in the largest accountancy practices in London. The interviews reveal that although accounting decisions seem clear after they have been made, the process of making them is contested and opaque. Yet accountants nonetheless tend to describe their work as if it were straightforward and technical. Accountants' Truth digs beneath the surface to explore how accountants actually construct knowledge, and draws out the implications of that process with respect to issues such as professionalism, performance, transparency, and ethics. This important book concludes that accountants' technical discourse undermines their ethical reasoning by obscuring the ways in which accounting decisions must be thought through in practice. Accountants with particular ethical perspectives more readily understand and construct particular types of knowledge, so the two issues of knowledge and of ethics are inseparable. Increasingly technical accounting rules can therefore counterproductive. Instead, our best approach to avoiding future scandals is to redefine and reinvigorate professional ethics in the financial world.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199603107
Number of pages: 208
Weight: 320 g
Dimensions: 233 x 164 x 14 mm

Gill is an articulate instructor. * Aaron Z. Pitluck, Work, Employment and Society *
Matthew Gill's book has the merit of opening one of the system's many "black boxes" that even a fast growing body of academic research in the sociology of finance has been quite reluctant to address: accounting. The numbers based on which markets operate, their mundane production by bookkeepers, their validation by audit and assurance experts, as well as the various valuation methods which elaborate on such numbers in order to derive so-called "decision-relevant information", are still largely taken for granted by sociologists. Gill's book is a refreshing exception. * Rita Samiolo, Canadian Journal of Sociology *
A scholar of the sort virtually unseen in the United States, where academic disciplines remain hermetically sealed in isolated fiefdoms. Gill ... utilizes sociological field methodsmuch like an ethnographer studying an indigenous folkto uncover the lives of the mysterious tribe of accountants. * James Aho, Business Ethics Quarterly *
very well written ... Gill's analysis contributes significantly to understanding how professional accountants think about ethical issues, and how they rationalize their decisions and actions in practice ... this study has much to recommend it to researchers, standardsetters and educators interested in the behavior of accountants * Leonard J. Brooks, Business Ethics Quarterly *
provides an informative and interesting addition to the current literature on accounting ethics, presenting a new perspective and useful insights into the ways in which the development of specialized technical knowledges - that is, purposively constructed versions of 'truth' - can manipulate and dominate political and economic structures, social practices and policy-making. * Susan Wild, Pacific Accounting Review *
Gill is to be congratulated on a book that opens many of the important issues raised by accounting as a practice constitutive of the realities of modern society. * Andrew Abbott, The Accounting Review *
In Accountant's Truth, Dr Matthew Gill has, in a very accessible and readable way, undertaken a study of accountants' behaviour by focusing on the day to day work which he argues is actually more important...the book provides a very important resource for anyone involved in working with accountants and/or using the results of accounting work in either the government or private sectors. It also sets a very important precedent for future studies of accounting activity as well as the sociology of the financial world in general. * David Gilchrist, Australian Journal of Public Administration *
This book will be useful to those in the sociological community who are interested in analysing how knowledge, especially that of a technical and numerical nature, is produced in a way that conveys on it the appearance of indubitable fact. It does a good job in criticizing that appearance. * Julian Muller, Organization *
well-written and thought-provoking...I greatly enjoyed the book and Gill's analysis...I encourage researchers outside the accounting field to read this book....for practitioners, I believe this study makes explicit a lot of what is implicit in their lives and gives them an opportunity to reflect on what needs to be fixed in their organizations. * Joanne C. Jones, Administrative Science Quarterly *
Based on interviews conducted with working accountants in London, Accountants' Truth is a skillful exercise in the sociology of knowledge. Gill produces insights that are the product of a keen awareness...I find it difficult to be critical of this work. Having thought about these types of accounting topics for many years, I was surprised by the new dimentionality that Gill's book opened on them. * Timothy J. Fogarty, Case Western Reserve University, writing in Contemporary Sociology: A Journal of Reviews *
Accountants' Truth makes human sense of one reason modern capitalism is in trouble. It charts the social influence accountants have on each other and the deforming results of this mutual influence. More, it shows a great and perhaps tragic conundrum: that ethics are rendered fragile by collaboration and cooperation - among people who are not minded to commit crime. The work of a writer who is both a trained accountant and a sociologist, this is a landmark study. * Richard Sennett, London School of Economics and Political Science *

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