Accounting's past, present and future: The unifying power of history

Garry D. Carnegie, Christopher J. Napier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Purpose – To revisit the special issue of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal published in 1996 on the theme “Accounting history into the twenty-first century”, in order to identify and assess the impact of the special issue in shaping developments in the accounting history literature, and to consider issues for future historical research in accounting.
Design/methodology/approach – A retrospective and prospective essay focusing on developments in the historical accounting literature.
Findings – The special issue’s advocacy of critical and interpretive histories of accounting’s past has influenced subsequent research, particularly within the various research themes identified in the issue. The most significant aspect of this influence has been the engagement of increasing numbers of accounting historians with theoretical perspectives and analytical frameworks.
Research limitations/implications – The present study examines the content and impact of a single journal issue. It explores future research possibilities, which inevitably involves speculation.
Originality/value – In addressing recent developments in the literature through the lens of the special issue, the paper emphasises the unifying power of history and offers ideas, insights and reflections that may assist in stimulating originality in future studies of accounting’s past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)328-369
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Accounting history; critical and interpretive histories; archives; research taxonomy; research projects

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