What accountant is this

Who knew what one might have been?

From G. Baldvinsdottir, J. Burns, H. Norreklit and R. W. Scapens (2009), “The image of accountants: from bean counters to extreme accountants“. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 22:6, pp. 858-882:

Researchers who have studied the portrayal of accountants in the media have identified both positive and negative images. For example, Robert (1957), Stacey (1958) and Cory (1992) found images of accountants in the printed media that characterised them as dull, sober and expressionless. Similarly, Beard (1994), Smith and Briggs (1999), and Dimnik and Felton (2006) also found the stereotype of the boring accountant in popular movies (e.g. The Dinner Game, 1998), but they also discovered a more diverse picture. Whilst movies generally portrayed accountants as honest, disciplined and respectful of the law (e.g. the Moonstruck, 1987), on occasions they were also portrayed as persons who can be unprofessional and prone to criminal behaviour (e.g. Circle of Friends, 1999). Furthermore, accountants are sometimes characterised as being short-term oriented, single-mindedly concentrating on costs, and misunderstanding the purpose of business, all of which can lead to disaster for their companies (see Dimnik and Felton, 2006). However, in other instances, accountants have more recently been portrayed as adventurous outdoor types who are interested in action sports (see Bougen, 1994; Friedman and Lyne, 2001; Ewing et al., 2001).

These previous studies have mainly investigated how people, who are not involved with the accounting profession, perceive the accountant as a person; they are not usually concerned with the work of accountants.


Beard, V. (1994), “Popular culture and professional identity: accountants in the movies”, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 303-18.

Bougen, P.D. (1994), “Joking apart: the serious side to the accountant stereotype”, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 319-35.

Cory, S.N. (1992), “Quality and quantity of accounting students and the stereotypical accountant: is there a relationship?”, Journal of Accounting Education, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 1-24.

Dimnik, T. and Felton, S. (2006), “Accountant stereotypes in movies distributed in North America in the twentieth century”, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 129-55.

Ewing, M.T., Pitt, L.F. and Murgolo-Poore, M.E. (2001), “Bean couture: using photographs and publicity to re-position the accounting profession”, Public Relations Quarterly, Vol. 46 No. 4, pp. 23-30.

Friedman, A.L. and Lyne, S.R. (2001), “The beancounter stereotype: towards a general model of stereotype generation”, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 423-51.

Robert, R. (1957), “The accountant in literature”, The Journal of Accountancy, Vol. 103 No. 3, pp. 64-6.

Smith, M. and Briggs, S. (1999), “From beancounter to action hero: changing the image of the accountant”, Management Accounting, January, pp. 28-30.

Stacey, N.A.H. (1958), “The accountant in literature”, The Accounting Review, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 102-5.

Then to this:

Next thing, one will hear about some “accounting life” TV series.

Turns out that this will happen sooner, with The Catch.


About brucelarochelle

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