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Accounting’s contributions to achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals


Special issue call for papers from Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

Guest Editors:


Professor Jan Bebbington, University of St. Andrews, UK

Professor Jeffrey Unerman, Royal Holloway University of London, UK

Why publish a special issue on this topic?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015, are the most relevant and recent attempt to integrate sustainable development ambitions and environmental limits in a policy framework. The SDGs –increasingly known simply as ‘The Global Goals’ – have rapidly gained traction among a broad range of actors, including corporations and the accounting profession, and are clearly relevant to the work of academic accountants.
Given their recent emergence, there has been little accounting focus on this potentially impactful area of research. This special issue of Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal aims to provide an outlet for such research and, as such, is a forum for exploring how accounting scholarship can and does play a role in contributing towards achievement of the SDGs.

Scope of special issue

We welcome papers that address any aspects of the actual and/or potential roles of accounting (in all its forms) in successfully advancing sustainable development through engagement with the SDGs. There is a wide range of topics that could provide valuable explorations of these issues within developed or developing economies (and indeed at the intersections between these economies) and across a range of organisational forms. These could cover, for example, issues such as:

  • Framing accounting, auditing, and/or accountability tools, techniques and interventions in terms of how they support the SDGs.
  • Deep analysis of the accounting, auditing, and/or accountability implications of: individual SDGs; combinations of SDGs; individual targets within the SDGs; or combinations of individual SDGs and/or targets.
  • Novel theorisations of responsibility and accountability in the context of the SDGs.
  • Studies of organisations that engage with the SDGs using accounting, auditing, and/or accountability interventions, as well as interventions where accounting or auditing might play a role.
  • The role of professional accounting bodies in furthering the realisation of the SDGs along with concerns about the involvement of these groups.
  • Industry-level engagement with the SDGs through accounting, auditing and reporting practices.
  • Innovative organisational practices supported by accounting, auditing, and/or accountability in adopting a SDG framing.
  • Challenges to auditing and assurance practices provided by organisations moving to a SDG-informed framing.
  • The inter- and trans-disciplinary challenges that the SDGs present for the accounting academic discipline.
  • Education initiatives that ensure the next generation of accountants and managers are able to support the pursuit of the SDGs

For a more detailed background to the SDGs; their interactions with accounting; and possibilities for future research, see:  Bebbington, J. and Unerman, J. (2018), “Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: an enabling role for accounting research”, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, forthcoming, DOI: 10.1108/AAAJ-05-2017-2929. This article is free to access until 4 March 2018

Workshop to develop papers prior to submission?

As this is an emergent field of research, we are providing an opportunity to workshop papers ahead of formal submission.

  • We therefore invite pre-submission synopses of papers (circa 4,000 words) by 1 June 2018 to Jeffrey.Unerman@rhul.ac.uk
  • Authors of papers selected for presentation will be invited to join a workshop to take place on Friday 31 August 2018 in St. Andrews, Scotland, the day after the Centre for Social and Environmental Accounting Research (CSEAR) International Congress in St. Andrews.

Submission deadlines

  • The closing date for submissions for this special issue is 7 January 2019 (regardless of whether or not these were initially submitted for the workshop).
  • Manuscripts should be submitted via Scholar One Manuscripts at: http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/aaaj Please choose the special issue from the list when submitting.
  • All papers will be reviewed in accordance with AAAJ’s normal procedures. Author guidelines can be found here.
  • Any queries in advance of submission can be sent for the attention of the Guest Editors to: Jeffrey.Unerman@rhul.ac.uk or jan.bebbington@st-andrews.ac.uk