The article "Accounting History and Accounting Progress" by Christopher J. Napier, discusses the progress of accounting, by exploring the history in accounting progress and attempting to form a conclusion on whether we are to regard accounting as eternally changing in a generally improving direction or as tending towards its end (Napier, 2001, p11). In critiquing this article, the definition of progress will be explored, as well as discussion on what constitutes accounting progress and the form in which accounting changes have occurred.
The Macquarie dictionary defines progress as "a proceeding to a further or higher stage, or through such stages successively". In terms of a definition for accounting progress, this general definition suggests that there will be a movement towards improving accounting towards an end. Napier recognizes that progress and change are not mutually exclusive, and in fact that one cannot occur without the other. However, not all change will result in progress, as not all change is of a positive nature. Take, for example, the management contribution phase of accounting (1900-1933). Management began to see complete control over the format and content of accounting disclosures (Belkaoui & Jones, 2002, p6). This meant that the focus was taken way from end users and directed towards tax minimization, expedient solutions created for complex problems and a general "glossing" over of earnings (Belkaoui & Jones, 2002, p6). Therefore it is important to understand that progress refers to an improvement in accounting theory and practice. In contrast, the definition of evolution provides another insight in the meaning of progression. The Macquarie dictionary defines evolution as "any process of formation or growth; development". This definition suggests that perhaps accounting progression is not achieved by deliberate attempts to improve previous theory and practice, but by theory and practice developing and evolving in tune with its surroundings and environment.