Chapters 7 and 8 not only reveal a man who was aware that, to be credible, reliable, and relevant, an applied discipline needed a theoretical grounding, but someone totally immersed in the particulars of the practice of accounting. This latter feature is another aspect of his life that previously has been underappreciated. The correspondence provides insights into those experiences and the observations made, which were critical in the development of his new theory of accounting. Chambers and Dean described the period to which those letters relate as ‘perhaps the most eventful period in the history of accounting up to the terminal date . It was a period of substantial growth, of conglomeration on a large scale by mergers and takeovers, of intense multinational corporate development, of increasing use of modes of organization and methods of financing that were novel at the beginning of the interval .’
Chambers’ theoretical exploits and the relationships with practitioners and regulators are the foci of several chapters, especially in chapter 7. In these, developing relationships with academics, practitioners, and regulatory colleagues are shown to be crucial. Also, globalization of commerce and the attendant internationalization of accounting and finance, as well as related political factors, are revealed as parts of the turbulence and constraints he faced in developing reforms. In seeking reforms he recognized the importance of attracting like-minded academics across many countries. He advocated on many occasions the need to form an international think-tank of academics during the 1960s. This underpinned an involvement in the failed elite academic society known as ARIA (1973–92). He was more successful in advocating an early version of what became known as the International Association of Accounting Education and Research (IAAER).
Insights into his approach to regulatory reform are pursued, especially in chapter 8. For many decades a missionary-style pursuit of a holistic, rigorous (in a logical and empirical-based sense) change to the conventional (traditional) reporting system characterized his approach. He promoted this through attempting to educate practitioners, regulators, academics, and students. This has been described by some commentators as being politically naive. However, it is little known that Chambers also sought change over many decades through private correspondence and personal meetings with regulators in many jurisdictions. This was undertaken in order to understand their regulatory responses to numerous unexpected company failures and associated investor losses and company takeover imbroglios. He identified that those responses had entailed the increased, but more of the same type of, publicity obligations of corporations. He also sought through these meetings to influence their views.