Lessons from misclassification in international accounting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Downloads (Pure)


Classification is a central activity in many sciences, such as chemistry. In social sciences, we cannot achieve the high precision and usefulness of the Mendeleev table of elements, but we can try to avoid poor classification. This paper sets out a method for identifying mis-classification in any field, drawing on the qualitative characteristics for useful information set out in the conceptual framework for financial reporting, particularly faithful representation and relevance. The method is applied first to various scientific fields and then to many classifications in international accounting and to other classifications used by accounting researchers. The causes of poor classification are examined; for example, some classifications are untrue, some are unfair and some are unlikely to be relevant for any important purpose. The implications for researchers are proposed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-254
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Accounting Review
Issue number3
Early online date12 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • International accounting; classification

Cite this