Academic journal article The Accounting Historians Journal

Patterns of Accounting History Literature: Movements at the Beginning of the 21st Century

Academic journal article The Accounting Historians Journal

Patterns of Accounting History Literature: Movements at the Beginning of the 21st Century

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper addresses and updates the challenge made by Carmona [2004] regarding the need to broaden the accounting history literature into periods, settings, and sectors outside those traditionally published in specialist journals. For this purpose, we review three international journals - the Accounting Historians Journal; Accounting, Business & Financial History; and Accounting History - and two national publications - Rivista di Contabilita e Cultura Aziendali (Italy) and De Computis (Spain) - over the period 2000-2008. The results show changes in the publishing patterns of accounting history research. We also explore whether non-Anglo-Saxon researchers have widened the settings, periods, and sectors studied from those of Anglo-Saxon researchers, thus altering the traditional focus of accounting history research.


Accounting history is currently a dynamic area in accounting research, especially since the early 1990s [Fleischman and Radcliffe, 2005]. In particular, Carmona and Zan [2002, p. 291] considered the 1990s "a golden age" of accounting history research [see also, Fleischman and Radcliffe, 2005]. This improvement came about because of the contributions of accounting history congresses and publications, as well as the efforts of leading accounting history journals, particularly the Accounting Historians Journal (AHJ), Accounting History (AH), and Accounting, Business & Financial History (ABFH) [Carmona and Zan, 2002]. Carnegie and Potter [2000] and Anderson [2002] have also remarked on developments in this area.

In spite of this improvement, most of the literature has been by Anglo-Saxon authors devoted to Anglo-Saxon settings, centered primarily on the 19th and 20th centuries and on private organizations. Scholars from other communities, such as Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain, have also published in those journals during the 1990s, although only moderately [Carnegie and Potter, 2000; see also, Carmona and Boyns, 2002; Carmona and Zan, 2002; Fleischman and Radcliffe, 2005; Carmona and Ezzamel, 2006]. Nonetheless, these same authors, despite the wealth of archival resources available to them, continued this focus on the 19th and 20th centuries and private organizations.

For this reason, in 2004, Carmona [2004, p. 9] pointed out the need to consider the research of non-Anglo-Saxon authors and to face up to the fact that "such a broadening of the discipline represents the most important challenge for accounting historians in the years to come." The efforts of non-Anglo-Saxon communities to improve their publishing rates in international journals through special issues or conferences and congresses, particularly at the beginning of the 21st century, should result in a higher level of dissemination of their research. Thus, the aim of this paper is to confirm whether Carmona's [2004] challenge has been fulfilled in the first years of the 21st century. It does so by exploring whether there has been an improvement in the publication of the work of non-Anglo-Saxon authors, and whether this research has widened the settings, periods, and sectors previously studied, thus changing the traditional focus in leading journals on accounting history.

For this purpose, we have analyzed the papers published in the international specialist journals in accounting history, namely AHJ, ABFH, and AH, over the period 2000-2008. We also reviewed two emergent national accounting history publications from Latin Europe - the Italian Rivista di Contabilita e Cultura Aziendali (RCCA) and the Spanish De Computis (DC) [Hernández-Esteve, 2008] - to compare our findings with the international journals. This enables us to extract some conclusions on the contributions of Anglo-Saxon compared to non-Anglo-Saxon research on accounting history. We have considered for the purpose of this study the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand (NZ) as Anglo-Saxon countries, and Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain as Latin. …

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