This chapter aims to put light on the positive accounting theory and related empirical studies and identify its broad contributions to the accounting research. Our objective is to provide a review of positive accounting literature in order to synthesize findings, identify areas of controversy in the literature, and evaluate critiques. Positive research in accounting started coming to prominence around the mid-1960s and had been a vector of paradigm shift within the financial accounting research in the 1970s and 1980s. The positive accounting theory is developed by Watts and Zimmerman and is based on work undertaken in economics and is heavily dependent on the efficient market hypothesis, the capital assets pricing model, and agency theory. The three key hypotheses are bonus plan hypothesis, debt hypothesis, and political cost hypothesis. Nevertheless, PAT has been subjected to severe and numerous criticisms from different perspectives, which are critiques on research methods, its theoretical foundations, its logic on economics' basis, and its reference to philosophy of science. PAT and its hypotheses will continue to be a rich field of empirical research and the basic questions that it raises are still relevant today.
Part of the book: Accounting and Corporate Reporting