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Accounting for (in)equitable organisations and societies

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

Special section of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability (and A - CSEAR conference stream)

Guest Editors: James Hazelton and Dale Tweedie, Department of Accounting and Corporate Governance, Macquarie University, Sydney

Accounting for (in)equitable organisations and societies

'Intellectual debate about the distribution of wealth has long been based on an abundance of prejudice and a paucity of fact' - Thomas Piketty (2014), Capitalism in the 21st Century

Recent events have revived political and academic interest in the causes and impacts of economic inequalities. In the United States, social movements following the global financial crisis have focused political attention on the stagnation of wage growth and the concentration of wealth among owners of assets. At the same time, economic research has rediscovered an interest in the long-term impacts of inequality across developed nations. A sign of the times is that Thomas Piketty’s (2014) academic treatise on trends in inequality since the 19th Century – Capital in the 21st Century – topped the New York Times best-selling list in May, 2014.

Issues of equitable resource distribution are now widespread in mainstream economic institutions, with statements and reports on the risks of inequality from the World Economic Forum, International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and Standard and Poors, among many others, in 2013 and 2014 alone.

However, despite the centrality of accounting to measurement and distribution of economic value, accounting research has been surprisingly quiet on social or organisational inequality. Despite early exploratory articles (Lev, 1988), and persistent but tangential references to issues of equality in social accounting (e.g. Bebbington and Larrinaga, 2014; Cooper et al., 2005; Bebbington, 1997) and accounting ethics (Fleischman et al., 2007; Dellaportas, 2006), there have been few attempts to more systematically address how accounting impacts or interprets the equity of contemporary institutions and societies (e.g. Hunt et al., 2013). Engagement with equity is also notably absent from sustainability reporting frameworks such as the GRI and IR.
This AAAJ special journal section invites accounting researchers to reflect critically or constructively on the accounting dimensions or implications of equality or inequality. Submissions might consider links between accounting and (in)equality at three possible levels: (i) within firms; (ii) in accounting frameworks and standard-setting; and (iii) in social systems of income measurement and distribution. The section is open to submissions that are empirically based, or that seek to develop apply relevant or novel theoretical frameworks that connect accounting to issues of inequality or inequality.
Possible at themes each level might include, but are not limited to:

Concrete accounting practices that firms do or should have to measure or promote equality
•The role of accounting in measuring inequity
•Accountants’ role in fostering equitable or inequitable use of firms’ resources
•The role of norms of equity in financial reporting or management accounting

Accounting frameworks and standard-setting
Accounting’s role in foregrounding or backgrounding of equity in accounting frameworks (e.g. the GRI)
•The presence of absence of equity considerations in accounting standards
•The role of equity considerations in the politics of framework development or standard setting

Accounting and the equitable distribution of social resources
Relationships between accounting and social inequality
•Accounting and economic systems of distributions
•Using accounting practice to articulate or challenge inequality

The topic of this special issue will form a conference stream at the CSEAR conference in 2015, to be held at Macquarie University in Sydney, 10-11 December, 2015. Participation in the CSEAR conference stream is not required for submission to the special section of Accounting, Auditing & Accountability.

The closing date for submissions to the Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal special section is 31st March, 2016. Papers should use the standard format for submissions to Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal and be submitted through the ScholarOne Manuscripts submissions process ( ScholarOne submissions will open in December, 2015. The usual double blind review process will be applied.

Bebbington, J. and Larrinaga, C. (2014), "Accounting and sustainable development: An exploration", Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 39 No. 6, pp. 395-413.
Bebbington, J. (1997). "Engagement, education and sustainability: a review essay on environmental accounting", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 10(3): 365-381.
Cooper, C., Taylor, P., Smith, N. & Catchpowle, L. (2005). "A discussion of the political potential of social accounting", Critical Perspectives on Accounting 16(7): 951-974.
Dellaportas, S. (2006). "Making a difference with a discrete course on accounting ethics", Journal of Business Ethics 65(4): 391-404.
Fleischman, G. M., Valentine, S. & Finn, D. W. (2007). "Ethical reasoning and equitable relief", Behavioral Research in Accounting 19(1): 107-132.
Hunt, C.J., Staunton, J., Dunstan, K. (2013),"Equity tension & new public management policy development and implementation in the water industry", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 26(8): 1342 – 1377.
Lev, B. (1988). "Toward a Theory of Equitable and Efficient Accounting Policy", The Accounting Review 63(1): 1-22.
Piketty, T. (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.