Thoroughly Modern Accounting:

Shifting to a De Re Conceptual Pattern for Debits and Credits

Double entry bookkeeping lies at the core of modern accounting. It is shaped by a fundamental conceptual pattern; a design decision that was popularised by Pacioli some 500 years ago and subsequently institutionalised into accounting practice and systems. Debits and credits are core components of this conceptual pattern. This paper suggests that a different conceptual pattern, one that does not have debits and credits as its components, may be more suited to some modern accounting information systems. It makes the case by looking at two conceptual design choices that permeate the Pacioli pattern; de se and directional terms - leading to a de se directional conceptual pattern. It suggests alternative design choices - de re and non-directional terms, leading to a de re non-directional conceptual pattern - have some advantages in modern complex, computer-based, business environments.


ER Forum 2018, co located with ER 2018, 22-25 October 2018, 2018, Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China


Chris Partridge (BORO Solutions, University of Westminster)
Mesbah Khan (OntoLedgy Ltd)
Sergio de Cesare (University of Westminster)
Frederik Gailly (Ghent University, Belgium)
Michael Verdonck (Ghent University, Belgium)
Andrew Mitchell (BORO Solutions)