The design of accounting systems : a general theory with an empirical study of the Church of England
The primary focus of this study is with the design of accounting systems in specific enterprise contexts: more specifically with the sequential processes for describing the nature of such systems, prescribing how they should look in the future and bringing such changes into being. Such concerns are explored at both a general theoretical level and in terms of the detailed design problems of the accounting systems in the Church of England. The contents of this study can be seen to be divided into three major parts. The first takes a critical look at the nature of accounting knowledge, particularly financial and management accounting, paying particular attention to it's methodological underpinnings. The conclusion, from this part, is that this knowledge stock does not adequately deal with the sequential processes of interest to this study primarily because of the dominant scientific and functionalist assumptions upon which such knowledge is based which are argued to be an inappropriate foundation upon which to build to satisfy this problem focus. The second part presents a case for, and describes the nature of, a methodological approach based on Critical Theory as the basis for satisfying the sequential concerns of this study. The third part applies this methodological approach in the process of trying to both understand and change the accounting systems in the Church of England. The conclusion forthcoming from this study is that the approach based on Critical Theory is a general 'theory' for the sequential concerns of this study but not the only approach which could fulfil such a claim. However, what does become apparent is that if the problem focus of this study is seen as important for the accounting mission then major shifts in the dominant methodology of accounting thought is necessary.