Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




In 1980 the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued Statement of Financial Accounting Concepts No. 2: Qualitative Characteristics of Accounting Information. This Statement provides characteristics that, according to the Board, are the qualities that make accounting information useful. Nine of these qualitative characteristics are examined in a questionnaire study to determine if they are operational, comprehensive, and parsimonious. Operationality refers to the ability of accountants to actually use the characteristics when choosing accounting methods. Comprehensiveness refers to the set of characteristics being a complete one. If none of the qualitative characteristics expressed in the Statement are redundant the set is considered a parsimonious one. Questionnaires were distributed to the Washington, D.C., offices of Big Eight firms in 1985. Twenty-one of twenty-four questionnaires were returned. The questionnaire asked the subjects about the qualitative characteristics within the context of eight accounting issues. The multitrait-multimethod matrix and two separate analyses of variances are used to determine if the set of characteristics are operational and parsimonious. The qualitative characteristics are considered operational if both convergent and discriminant validity are present. The characteristics are considered parsimonious if discriminant validity is found. An analysis of variance proposed by Kavanagh and a repeated measures ANOVA were used to determine if convergent and discriminant validity are present. The results of the Kavanagh procedure indicated convergent and discriminant validity, but method bias was indicated. Therefore, the repeated measures ANOVA was performed, and it also indicated both convergent and discriminant validity. These results indicate that the subjects are able to agree as to the meaning of like characteristics and differentiate between characteristics that are meant to be different. This evidence suggests that the characteristics are operational and parsimonious. The major test for comprehensiveness involved the use of two linear models to predict each subject's preference of accounting method. Weights for the models were computed using the analytic hierarchy process. The hit ratios (percentage of times the model predicted correctly) were less than perfect, at 64.2 percent and 75.6 percent overall. If the set of qualitative characteristics is to be considered comprehensive one would hope that the predictive accuracy would be higher.