Student imaginings, cognitive dissonance and critical thinking

Nihel Chabrak, Russell Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, we urge accounting educators to encourage imaginings and critical thinking in students. We reflect on the results of an assignment in which French accounting students were encouraged to assess the collapse of Enron. The submitted assignments attest to the originality and richness of non-conformist stories reported by some students. However, they also revealed strong instances of cognitive dissonance that we contend was fostered by the contradictions some students detected between the rhetoric and the reality of capitalism; and by the perpetuation of socially bereft capitalist values in accounting curricula. The assignment manifested student discontent with the current pervading economic system and its moral and ethical precepts. We identify the ways by which students responded to their cognitive dissonance. We propose some pedagogic and curriculum initiatives to improve accounting education. These initiatives call for stronger efforts to connect accounting topics with the social world in order to demystify the alleged naturalness of the capitalist system; for students to be encouraged to imagine other cultures and discourses; and for students to challenge any prevailing ideology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-104
Number of pages14
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2013


  • Accounting education
  • Capitalism
  • Cognitive dissonance
  • Critical
  • Ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Finance
  • Information Systems and Management


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