Some conceptual tensions in financial reporting

Yuri Biondi, Jonathan Glover, Karim Jamal*, James A. Ohlson, Stephen H. Penman, Shyam Sunder, Eiko Tsujiyama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


We examine four key conceptual tensions that are at the heart of many financial reporting dilemmas: stocks versus flows, ex ante versus ex post, conventions versus economic substance, and top-down design versus bottom-up evolution as sources of accounting practice. Associated with each of these conceptual dimensions is an accounting duality; in some cases, one side (e.g., stocks) is easier to measure in a reliable manner, while the other side (e.g., flows) is easier to measure in other instances. We suggest that financial reporting would benefit from a willingness to pay attention to, and find compromise between, both sides of these tensions; forcing a choice of one over the other does not serve to improve financial reporting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-133
Number of pages9
JournalAccounting Horizons
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • Conceptual tensions
  • Conventions-economic features
  • Design-evolution
  • Ex ante-ex post
  • Stocks-flows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting


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