The debate among accounting theoreticians as to the content and usefulness of the Financial Accounting Standards Board's concept statements and its conceptual framework project can better be understood if a perspective of prior “framework” efforts is used. This paper interprets the principal prior efforts to produce a comprehensive conceptual framework for financial reports down to the time the FASB was formed in 1972. It shows that previous efforts were slow to evolve, and to respond to environmental changes. There is also evidence that a continuing “dynamic tension” has existed between the patterns proposed by practitioner groups and those of groups of academics.

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