Date: December 1996
Creator: Pence, Diana Kay
Description: George O. May's (1952) prescient statement that "if accounting had not already become, it was well on its way to becoming a political phenomenon" provides the motivation for this study. Changing socioeconomic relationships in the post-World War II period make it an ideal period to examine the politicalization of accounting. Keynesian economic policies justified active government intervention in the economy to manage demand and ensure full employment. No longer could it be assumed that competitive market forces would ensure that corporations produced goods and services at a socially optimal level or that income would be distributed equitably. Claims that accounting profit provides a measure of managerial efficiency are based on these premises. This dissertation examines the political dynamics of one particular accounting measurement debate--the debate over the determination of business income. Policies, such as wage/price controls, the excess profits tax, and the undistributed profits tax, brought the accounting income determination debate to center stage. The perseverance of the historic cost allocation model in the face of significant economic changes presents a fascinating glimpse of the important role accounting played in justifying continued reliance on the private property rights paradigm. I use retrodiction (reasoning from present to past) to examine why ...
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