The Accounting Historians Journal
Vol. 14, No. 1
MAUREEN H. BERRY, EDITOR University of Illinois
S.Paul Garner: A Study of Selected Contributions to the Accounting Profession (The University of Arkansas, 1986) by Robert Michael Garner.
A tall, soft-spoken man, endowed with the courtesy and personal warmth characteristic of a Southern heritage, has in a quiet way become one of the most influential and respected educators of our time. The author of this study of Samuel Paul Garner, only coincidentally bearing the same surname as his subject, has made a valient and commendable effort to sift out from a very rich data base some of Garner's main achievements during more than half a century of professional and public service. What emerges is a vivid image of Dean Garner as representing something rare in the increasingly segmented and specialized world of accountancy: a generalist who has used his special skills to perceive anomalies, assess their significance for the accounting domain and its environment, and influence the initiation of new ideas from an integrated systems perspective. This talent for synthesis draws on two of Dean Garner's main strengths. One has to do with his considerable interpersonal abilities and enthusiastic and vigorous support of causes he champions. The other, his technical expertise in such diverse areas of accounting as auditing, financial, international, man-agerial, and public sector. This breadth of knowledge is threaded through with a deep sense of history, providing the linkages essential for broad appreciation of situations meriting attention.
As rationale for the dissertation, the author relies on the well accepted premise that much can be learned about the evolution of ideas and ways of doing things by recognizing the roles played by key individuals in certain transformation processes. This (assumption is fully justified in the light of what we learn of Garner as a person and a major path-breaker. Another positive feature of this study, regrettably lacking in much historical investigation, is its disclosure of methodology. We are given enough information to be able to construct a model, such as the one shown below,1 of the underlying research framework.
1Adapted from John W. Buckley et al, Research Methodology & Business Decisions, A monograph prepared for the National Association of Accountants and The Society of Industrial Accountants of Canada, 1975, p. 15.