Accounting History Review
Special Issue Call for Papers
Deadline: 31 January 2019
Using interdisciplinary approaches to examine the historical context of contemporary business issues
In collaboration with the Association of Academic Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools (AAHANZBS).
Students and scholars of business face the task of making sense of a rapidly changing world. ‘Disruptive’ business innovations have seemingly changed both the way in which business operates (the practices used to provide goods and services), as well as the way in which these new business operations are understood (theory). Business and management schools have provided specialised and applied knowledge about business practices, often distilled from that of cognate disciplines. With ‘change’ and ‘disruption’ increasingly prevalent in the business sphere, it is appropriate to revisit whether it is possible to extend the use of interdisciplinary and historically-informed approaches to assist our understanding of current issues.
In a recent AHR editorial, McWatters (2017) has pointed to the productive but sometimes uneasy interplay between accountants and historians. While noting that scholars in business schools, in particular, are often encouraged to adopt interdisciplinary methods in their work, a lack of clarity remains as to what this means. Following on from these observations, this special issue will focus on the benefits and challenges of using history as part of an interdisciplinary approach to understanding accounting and business. While multidisciplinary approaches are considered to juxtapose different disciplinary approaches, interdisciplinary approaches are said to integrate these different approaches (Thompson Klein 2010; Wagner, Roessner, Bobb, Thompson Klein, Boyack, Keyton, Rafols, and Börner, 2011).
A tension perhaps exists between the perceived strengths of business-related disciplines such as accounting, finance and marketing, and the value of historical studies of business. Business disciplines are characterised by different conceptual and theoretical frameworks, which are geared to providing a generalisable understanding of business operations and actors. History sometimes exists on the periphery of these approaches in the form of company cases or vignettes used to illustrate these frameworks. However, the strength of accounting and business history lies in rich accounts of individual companies and organisations. Moreover, historical perspectives provide an understanding of specific economic and institutional contexts that can shape business success at particular times. Arguably, the theoretical abstraction in some business disciplines stands in stark contrastto the empirical detail of accounting and business histories. Yet each approach requires the other, in order to account for the depth and significance of change in business and management. Well-developed histories of companies and organisations can provide rich detailed accounts that illustrate specific business operations, but these accounts can result in nothing more than ‘thick description’ if not combined with explicit theoretical frameworks.
Numerous examples exist of an integration of history with concepts from a particular discipline to develop rigorous analyses and explanations. Accounting History Review provides a case in point with its encouragement of cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary (and multidisciplinary) studies from disciplines with which accounting interacts. For instance, McWatters and Lemarchand (2013) adopted social network analysis as a way of understanding how accounting discourse assisted in the development of merchant networks in the eighteenth century. In the study of employment relations, the labour process approach developed from the integration of history and Marxist sociology (Littler 1982). More recently, Toms and Wright (2005) used historical evidence from the UK and the USA in the second half of the twentieth century to examine and refine corporate governance concepts. In Australia, academics in employment relations and business information systems have combined their respective approaches with historical analysis to develop a visual atlas in order to explain the growth, decline and revival of co-operatives (Balnave, Patmore, and Marjanovic 2017).
This special issue provides an additional opportunity to demonstrate how historical analysis can enhance interdisciplinary approaches to contemporary issues in accounting and business. Accounting is central in these analyses given the pervasive and central role played by accounting in organisations.
Submission and Conference Details
We encourage submissions by scholars from different business disciplines that draw upon historical approaches. Abstracts that were submitted before the 30th April 2018 are being considered for inclusion in the special session at the 10th Annual Conference of the Association of Academic Historians in Australian and New Zealand Business Schools to be held at the University of Sydney Business School on November 6-7 2018. Attendance at the conference is encouraged but not necessary to be considered for publication in the special issue.
We are still accepting submissions to the Special Issue with a final manuscript deadline of 31 January 2019.
Upon submission, the referee and review process of all manuscripts will be in accordance with AHR editorial policy.