Accounting problems – redefining profit

A project prompted by concerns over the damage that an over-reliance on conventional and seemingly unconventional construction of accounting profits and other concepts of financial profits and gains were having on our physical and social world.

School of Accounting Researcher Professor Alan Lowe and Lecturer Yesh Nama are in the final stages of completing a special issue in Accounting, Auditing and Accountability.

Lowe and Nama aim to solve issues surrounding profit and profitability and their deleterious implications for society, proposing that we should “study the mechanisms of [sociology of profits, and] its social construction” (Breton & Caron, 2008, p. 85).  

Lowe and Nama envisioned expanded conceptualisations of profit and profitability.

Profits have a broader definition and is not only confined to monetary financial profit (surplus of income over expenses) but also non-monetary or non-financial profit. Only in this manner can we adequately begin to account for ‘externalities’ and the side effects of poor governmental and corporate activities. 

In more limited terms profit should encompass socio-political ‘benefits and costs’. For instance, political parties whether in government or opposition may benefit or profit from certain activities and raise issues purely for political purposes. Such actions can have severe consequences on social stability and political coherence. But the same is true of extreme acceptance of a market society and immoral or fraudulent behaviour.

To find out how your organisation can get involved with this research project, contact industry.engagement@rmit.edu.au

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nations on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.

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