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Rhetoric in standard setting: the case of the going-concern audit

Masocha, W. and Weetman, P. (2007) Rhetoric in standard setting: the case of the going-concern audit. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 20 (1). pp. 74-100. ISSN 0951-3574

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This paper seeks to explore in depth the ways in which the rhetoric of the standard setter responds to comments received during development of a standard. Previous research has explored the use of rhetorical strategies in accounting standards to construct and persuade as to what is 'good' and to silence potential criticisms and alternative proposals. The exploration is extended to the development of an auditing standard and is strengthened by relating the opinions of lobbyists to the rhetoric used in the response. The analysis shows that, in a situation where the standard setter's position changed significantly during the exposure of proposals to comment, rhetorical strategies in the exposure draft or standard were adapted to match the changing direction of persuasion, with silencing of potential counter-argument evidenced in the surrounding explanatory material. Research implications/limitations - The research demonstrates that those using standards should be aware of the normative nature of these documents and the subjectivity inherent in the nature of the text. The paper builds on Young's 2003 paper by exploring the dynamics of the ways in which the rhetoric of the standard setter responds to comment during the consultation process.