International Accounting

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Balance sheet and accounting thought: From Luka Pacioli to our days

Vol. 20, Iss. 6, MARCH 2017

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Received: 10 November 2016

Received in revised form: 23 November 2016

Accepted: 30 November 2016

Available online: 29 March 2017


JEL Classification: М40, М41

Pages: 308-320

Tsygankov K.Yu. Siberian Academy of Finance and Banking, Novosibirsk, Russian Federation

Subject The article addresses the emergence and historical evolution of the balance sheet and accounting thought and their current state.
Objectives The study aims to reveal historical reasons for slow development and modern shortcomings of the accounting though, and highlight methods to eliminate them.
Methods A methodological basis of the paper is dialectical approach implying the study of phenomena in their development and interrelation.
Results The prime causes of slow development of the theoretical accounting thought and its modern shortcomings include the lack of theoretical and historical data in works by Luka Pacioli and his followers and economically irrelevant form of the balance sheet. Further, these problems were aggravated by their being veiled, spoiling the terminology, and recent intuitive reforms of the balance sheet, which were supported by explanation and substantiation.
Conclusions Accounting is a typical information technology, which generates accounting records by means of debit and credit entries in accounts according to quite certain and repeated algorithms. To explain this system in a clear, straightforward and evidence-based way is quite possible. Creating a hypothesis for the origin and logic of designing the form of historical balance sheet shall become the first step on this way. The hypothesis should enable to explain consistently the paradoxes of this form, to provide an economically meaningful definition of the concepts of debit and credit, equity and profit, and on this basis to interpret the double entry system.

Keywords: balance sheet, conceptual problem, debit, credit, accounting thought


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