Great adventures in accounting

The supposedly staid, unglamorous field of accounting is in fact packed, to some degree, with exciting adventures. But accountants rarely divulge this fact to persons outside the profession. Three monographs, all produced in Australia, document some of the adventure – and even some of the excitement.

In 1967, a paper by Professor RJ Chambers, of the University of Sydney, called Prospective Adventures in Accounting Ideas, appeared in the journal Accounting Review. Chambers notes ruefully: “These 50 years have seen quite a few potentially fruitful ideas, with wide implications, brought to notice, noticed scarcely at all, and almost abandoned … Some 43 years ago, [accounting scholar Henry Rand] Hatfield said, ‘Let us boldly raise the question whether accounting, the late claimant for recognition as a profession, is not entitled to some respect, or must it consort with crystal-gazing … and palmreading?’ I wonder what Hatfield would think today, to see how far some would have us go in the direction of crystal-gazing. I leave you to think about what I am referring to.” …

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.