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The conceptual underwear of financial reporting

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The paper examines the role of metaphor in debates about ``conceptual frameworks'' for financial reporting and accounting standard setting. It takes the form of a dialogue between a standard setter and an academic. The paper demonstrates the power of metaphor by substituting a different, unfamiliar metaphor in place of the cliched ``framework'' for describing a set of accounting principles. The effect of the replacement is examined in the context of UK Accounting Standards Board's (ASB's) draft Statement of Principles. Underlying the apparent engineering parsimony of the framework metaphor, a mutable and inconsistent set of principles is discovered. The substitution of metaphors suggest that conceptual frameworks serve multiple purposes, such as marketing standards to preparers and users. The use of metaphors inevitably entails the importation of ``baggage'' into analysis, so that metaphors need to be chosen with care and baggage needs to be examined.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-501
Number of pages13
JournalAccounting Auditing and Accountability Journal
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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