Cutting the Gordian knot [?]: a response to Lukka and Vinnari (2014)

Alan D. Lowe*, Ivo De Loo, Yesh Nama

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


– The purpose of this paper is to constructively discuss the meaning and nature of (theoretical) contribution in accounting research, as represented by Lukka and Vinnari (2014) (hereafter referred to as LV). The authors aim is to further encourage debate on what constitutes management accounting theory (or theories) and how to modestly clarify contributions to the extant literature.

– The approach the authors take can be seen as (a)n interdisciplinary literature sourced analysis and critique of the movement’s positioning and trajectory” (Parker and Guthrie, 2014, p. 1218). The paper also draws upon and synthesizes the present authors and other’s contributions to accounting research using actor network theory.

– While a distinction between domain and methods theories … may appear analytically viable, it may be virtually impossible to separate them in practice. In line with Armstrong (2008), the authors cast a measure of doubt on the quest to significantly extend theoretical contributions from accounting research.

Research limitations/implications
– Rather than making (apparently) grandiose claims about (theoretical) contributions from individual studies, the authors suggest making more modest claims from the research. The authors try to provide a more appropriate and realistic approach to the appreciation of research contributions.

– The authors contribute to the debate on how theoretical contributions can be made in the accounting literature by constructively debating some views that have recently been outlined by LV. The aim is to provide some perspective on the usefulness of the criteria suggested by these authors. The authors also suggest and highlight (alternative) ways in which contributions might be discerned and clarified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-316
Number of pages12
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2016


  • accounting research
  • domain theory
  • method theory
  • theoretical contribution


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