CSR and Accounting: Drawing on Weber and Aristotle to Rethink Generally Accepted Accounting Principles


  • The authors would like to thank Dean Neu, Jeff Everett, Doug McKenna, Linda Thorne, participants of the University of Manitoba-CGA Accounting Research Conference, the Asia Pacific Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference in Singapore, and the University of Calgary Critical Accounting Research Conference for their helpful comments. Janet Morrill gratefully acknowledges funding received from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba through the Centre of Accounting Research and Education at the University of Manitoba. Bruno Dyck also thankfully acknowledges funding received from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.


The purpose of this article is to discuss and provide an alternative, less materialist–individualist approach to interpret the four assumptions of generally accepted accounting principles: economic entity, unit measure, periodic reporting, and going concern. The article draws from and builds on arguments first developed by Weber and Aristotle to demonstrate how a materialist–individualist moral point of view influences the conventional interpretation of the four basic assumptions for generally accepted accounting principles. We then propose an ideal-type conceptual framework upon which to critique mainstream accounting theory and to develop alternative accounting theory that balances multiple forms of well-being (including financial, but also social, physical, spiritual, and ecological well-being) for multiple stakeholders (including owners, employees, customers, suppliers, competitors, neighbors, future generations, and so forth).