Gilchrist, D. (2010). Accountants’ Truth: Knowledge and Ethics in the Financial World by Matthew Gill [Book Review]. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 69, 340-342.
Whenever there is commercial scandal the role of accounting and accountants in that scandal has been a constant source of interest to academics, the media and the community in general. It would seem that scandalous episodes, such as those involving Enron and HIH, carry an enduring fascination as well as a lesson for people in all walks of life. In response to such scandals, analysis is undertaken with a view to explanation, to punishment and to avoidance of repetition. Explanation and punishment are usually effected, however, avoidance of repetition is often less than successful. In “Accountants’ Truth”, Dr Matthew Gill has, in a very accessible and readable way, undertaken a study of accountants’ behavior by focusing on the day to day work which he argues is actually more important. He considers that, fundamentally, an understanding of the way accountants construct knowledge in their daily work provides more answers with regard to appreciating the implications of what accountants do than the examination of specific and extreme cases involving criminal activity. Gill demonstrates his thesis by way of a brief discussion of the Enron episode, but this book does not become yet another expose on the shock and horror of the Enron case. Rather, it is a thought provoking and mature look at the underlying problems ultimately causing such outcomes.