What is accounting? The “being” and “be-ings” of the accounting phenomenon and its critical appreciation

Nihel Chabrak, Jim Haslam, Helen Oakes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to reflect a critical perspective drawing from phenomenology, especially informed by a reading of Heidegger, to enhance and extend appreciation of the need to question accounting’s meaning or delineation and how research might be undertaken into the accounting phenomenon and related areas. Design/methodology/approach: To illustrate and clarify argumentation in terms of accounting mobilization and the domain of accounting research, the mainstream and strongly positivistic accounting perspective adopted in the USA is critically assessed. At the same time, the authors elaborate how much of interpretive research (including much of that labeled critical) is also lacking in terms of the perspective articulated here. Findings: The paper stresses the case for questioning the taken-for-granted and conventional. It promotes reflexivity, cautious pragmatism, attentiveness to the value of the existing, responsibility to difference and otherness and openness to new possibilities as part of a deeper critical orientation. Originality/value: The paper draws from phenomenology, especially in Heideggerian terms to open-up new conversational domain to debate accounting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1414-1436
Number of pages23
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 8 2019


  • Accounting
  • Heidegger

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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