In pursuit of legitimacy: a history behind fair value accounting

Omiros Georgiou, Lisa Jack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An examination of the history of attempts by regulators, practitioners and scholars from the mid nineteenth century to 2005 to establish an appropriate accounting measurement basis for financial reporting here leads to an evaluation of the likelihood of fair value accounting (FVA) practices becoming fully institutionalised. Using concepts drawn from theories of legitimation, it is shown here that historic cost accounting (HCA) only enjoyed an episodic legitimacy in the 1940s–70s and that prior and after this period mixed measurement incorporating market values is routinised. Although principles of FVA have been legitimised to an extent, it is argued here that this has resulted in the practice of mixed measurement bases being taken for granted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-323
JournalThe British Accounting Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Fair value
  • Accounting bases
  • Legitimation


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