COVID-19 and accounting: Threats to, and opportunities for, accounting education, research and publication, and innovation in professional practice Deadline 15.05.2021

Call for papers for: Meditari Accountancy Research

Deadline 15.05.2021

Guest Editors:

Garry Carnegie, RMIT University
Delfina Gomes, University of Minho
Karen McBride, University of Portsmouth

Background to the special issue

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global pandemic on 11 March 2020, due to the fast spread and high casualty rate of COVID-19. This unprecedented pandamic has caused immense grief, both in terms of loss of human life and widespread illness and stimulated extraordinary containment measures in most countries. All aspects of society are impacted by the virus and its immense implications, including stimulating a substantial worldwide economic decline and many countries have moved into deep recession. There has also been rapidly increasing geopolitical tensions which seem to be partly driven by virus-impacted circumstances.  

Universities and other institutions of higher education have been in lockdown mode, and have ceased face-to-face learning and teaching in view of the risks of spreading the disease far more widely, with greater adverse implications for human life and public health than has occurred to date.  Countries or regions where English is the national language, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, and the United States of America, have been particularly impacted. Universities in these “education export” countries have become heavily reliant on international students, especially those who depart their own countries to study abroad in order to undertake their higher education studies and to accrue a different cultural experience and develop their language skills.

China has provided high levels of international students to public universities in many countries or regions, including the above instances.  In Australia, for example, most, if not all, of the largest and highest profile universities in major Australian capital cities in the states and territories, particularly in Melbourne, and Sydney are most heavily impacted and key regional universities, located near capital cities, are also affected. Universities which have experienced sharp downturns in student numbers, are also assessing the implications for funding of research within the sector, traditionally known for knowledge creation across all disciplines.  On the other hand, “education import” nations are also facing threats and opportunities.  Concerning the latter, some countries may aspire to stimulate future investment and the development of higher education as an education export, including the possible recruitment of academics from “education export” countries to date.

A period of rapid change has commenced in universities, as in all other sectors, and will continue to occur, in the foreseeable future.  Major change presents opportunities as well as threats.  The guest editors of this special issue are of the foundational belief, expressed in colloquial terms, that “every dark cloud has a silver lining”.  This propensity is seen to be applicable to accounting education, research and publications, and innovation in professional accounting practice.

Given the expected ongoing intrusion of the virus into our lives and the early days of its meandering and associated impacts, a list of potential topics will not be provided for this special issue as has become fashionable for thematic special issues.  Rather, the guest editors do not wish, in any way, to potentially narrow the topics or issues to be addressed by scholars at all levels and ages on this theme.  However, there are clearly “big questions” to be answered and “wicked problems” to be solved worldwide, to which professional accountants and the accounting profession can make key contributions with wide ramifications.  The guest editors, therefore, request to receive research proposals in advance of submissions that outline the topic, express research objective, key research question(s), and methodological and theoretical approaches, particularly interdisciplinary and critical research perspectives, as well as a list of between 8-10 key references for the proposed research project to fit this theme and to meet the important specification as outlined in the next paragraph.

This special issue explores the potential contribution for accounting education, research and publication, and engagement with professional accounting practitioners to answer “big questions” and solve “wicked problems” internationally.  How may this prospect or intention be operationalised?  While it is widely understood that accounting is a technical practice, this special issue actively encourages submissions from authors who recognise accounting as social practice. Accounting is strongly influential in our lives, and not just within our careers or workplaces.  Indeed, accounting is increasingly recognised around the globe for its effects on (and reflections of) people’s behaviours, and underlying organisational cultures, with ramifications for organisational and social functioning and development.  Active encouragement is provided to potential contributors to this special issue to examine how accounting educators and researchers can more accurately and effectively represent and position accounting as a key social practice and actively engage with this dimension of accounting in the classroom, online, and intensively in the field of professional practice. Accounting is impactful; it is a constitutive device and can be nuanced and developed innovatively in aspiring to shape a better world.

Potential contributors may also consider “the fit” of conventional wisdom in accounting. By way of mere illustration, the “accounting entity” or the “reporting entity” is a key accounting concept or assumption.  This notion presents drawbacks in securing the future of our environment. What are the key means of effectively addressing climate change, and cross border calamities, including the containment of prevention of global and regional pandemics?  While organisations extract their income/revenue from a diversity of sources, they impose costs daily onto the environment and upon communities, otherwise known as externalities.  Such costs include pollution of all forms, climate change impacts, protecting endangered species, ravaging fires, dangerous heat levels and water loss and degeneration.  These costs are not specifically accounted for to any material extent in conventional financial statements made available to shareholders/owners and all other stakeholders. This technical accounting concept, one of the underpinnings of regulated financial reporting around the globe, may be ripe for revisiting.

At this time of virus-inflicted calamity in the world, not to recognise the social phenomenon of accounting directly linked to its pervasiveness, and the full acknowledgment of its enabling and disabling characteristics, shows a lack of concern with accounting as a key change agent or driver for potentially creating new behaviours and cultures in organisations, communities and societies.  This special issue is purposed on the recognition of accounting as social practice for understanding its full capabilities and potential for the betterment of all people, the natural environment from which we gain sustenance, and all other life forms.  Therefore, the timing could not be any more apt to explore in higher education the opportunity which presents of how accounting can be re-evaluated and materially reconstituted, to enable our big questions to be answered and our wicked problems to be solved. Perceiving accounting narrowly as a technical practice alone is indeed unlikely to create the necessary mind space or initiative.

Other key specifications for this special issue are as follows:

Deadlines and Schedule

Submission due date: 15 May 2021.

Research proposal submission date: 31 October 2020 (email: [email protected]; extensions may be granted).

Expected publication date: Late 2021/early 2022 (papers will be put on Early-Cite once accepted, with a maximum delay of three weeks).

Maximum word length: 7,000 words, excluding words contained in the “References”.

Guest editors’ email addresses:

Garry Carnegie, RMIT University, email: [email protected]

Delfina Gomes, University of Minho, email: [email protected]

Karen McBride, University of Portsmouth, email: [email protected]

In contacting the guest editors, please write to all three in the first instance.