Accounting- McCarthy vs Sutton

Accounting- McCarthy vs Sutton

McCarthy and Sutton’s Articles Similarities and Differences on the Nature of Accounting and the Accounting Function in an Organization

In the two articles, the authors are objected to traditional accounting methods and advocate for modern accounting techniques such as accounting information systems (AIS) and REA that use data modelling techniques. In defining the boundaries of AIS, McCarthy states that AIS excels in transaction processing and this creates accountability of data in an organization. In his argument, McCarthy states that AIS is a subset of management information system (MIS), a perspective which is similar to Sutton’s arguments. Similarly, Sutton postulates that AIS research comprises of how information technology (IT) is applied in accounting and its effect to accounting information and management.


The first difference underlies Sutton’s idea of merging AIS with traditional accounting domains. Sutton argues that the adoption of accounting domains potentially adds relevance to AIS research by employing strong traditions in theory-oriented works, excellent analytical skills, and rigorous statistical models. In his argument, blending AIS research with traditional accounting research contributes to a more relevant and strong accounting domain. Contrastingly, McCarthy is against blending AIS and traditional accounting research methods. He argues that this integration of the two methods would create harm than good in the relevance and accuracy of accounting information of a company. Instead, McCarthy advocates for the bringing of these traditional analytical skills to the AIS arena in order to create relevance in accounting. In this argument, traditional accounting research methods are sometimes inappropriate due to limited dimensions and its high aggregation rate for stored accounting information.

Another difference exists where McCarthy’s article advocate for a generalized framework for accounting (REA) made to be applied in a shared data environment. On the other hand, Sutton’s paper focuses on the frameworks and foundations of accounting information systems (AIS) and its application in accounting and auditing practices.

Work Cited

McCarthy, William E. The REA Accounting Model: A Generalised Framework for Accounting Systems in a Shared Data Environment. New York: American Accounting Association, 1982.

Sutton, Steve G and Vicky Arnold. Foundations and Frameworks for AIS Research. University of Connecticut/ University of Melbourne, 2000.

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