To Bernard Colasse, the "soul" of accounting

To Bernard Colasse, the "soul" of accounting

The career of Bernard Colasse coincides with the appearance and development in France of a scientific community in accounting, management control, and audit. In 1979, he was one of the founders of the French Accounting Association (Association Française de Comptabilité – AFC), and in 1983, he became its second president.

In 1990, he designed the first French Postgraduate research degree in accounting. In 1995, he was the editor-in-chief of Comptabilité Contrôle Audit (CCA), the only French academic journal in accounting. He edited the Encyclopedia of Accounting, Management Control and Audit, published by Economica in two editions in 2000 and 2009. His doctoral students, colleagues, and friends wanted to express their gratitude and friendship by dedicating to him this book, which includes exclusively contributions on topics he has devoted a lot of time on numerous occasions. This book is a kind of state-of-the-art of current accounting research, which seeks to overcome a strictly technical vision of accounting and to promote an original reflection on the economic, social, and political role of accounting.

The book is divided into 19 chapters that tackle 19 different topics. We first set out to highlight that accounting has become a strategic tool, one that goes beyond simply providing evidence or reporting tax. In the same spirit, accounting, as social convention, can be seen at the same time as a tool for manipulation, accomplice to financial excesses, or the instrument that reveals the manipulation. Therefore, it is necessary to thoroughly and critically understand the roles of accounting nowadays. Questions related to the role of accounting, the quality of accounting numbers, or the quality of audit and control, have been long-standing questions in accounting research. Accounting is a powerful tool not only for framing and constructing the contemporary company, but also for disembedding the economic aspects (which go into the calculation) from the social and political aspects (which do not go into the calculation) in Western societies. We then examined the role of accounting standards and regulations. This examination is important nowadays as the world finds itself at a cross-road between (1) the coordination of transnational regulation and private self-regulation which gives rise to novel forms of regulation, (2) the more and more active participation of regulated parties to the standard-setting process, and (3) the increased importance of corporate elites in the accounting regulation process. These important regulatory characteristics are observable in accounting, but also in the disclosure of social and environmental information, and in auditing. Finally, we cannot study an accounting system without taking into account the actors. Accounting is marked by, sustained, and organized by several different social and economic communities: regulators, accounting profession, companies, the academia etc. The range of topics covered in this book expresses the diversity of these communities and their ability to make and break the rules.

The objective of this work is also to propose to those passionate about numbers or curious beyond their main subject a chance to wander along the human, social, and political meadows of a technical discipline.

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