Experimental research in accounting dates back several decades to the 1960s and early 1970s, is marked by resurgence in the mid-1990s, and a recent increase in the frequency of use. The sustained interest in the use of experiments to address accounting questions might be explained by the comparative advantages of the experimental approach to determine how, when and (ultimately) why important features of accounting settings influence decisions and behaviors.
While other methods of empirical accounting research are frequently criticized for the failure to capture relevant aspects of the issue of interest and the inability to separate interrelated effects, experiments allow for both disentangling variables that are confounded in natural settings and for measuring intervening processes to draw strong causal inferences. Thus, experiments in accounting enable researchers to test decisions and behaviors predicted by an economic model with a maximum of internal validity and to offer potential explanations for inconsistencies between actual behavior and theory.
However, despite these advantages of experimental studies, there are still methodological weaknesses and any generalizations made about the decisions and behaviors of agents in the real world are extremely tenuous.
We encourage contributions that critically reflect the application of experimental research to accounting questions, in particular management accounting and management control.