Editorial: Exploring accounting history and accounting in history

McBride, Karen and Verma, Shraddha (2021). Editorial: Exploring accounting history and accounting in history. The British Accounting Review, 53(2), article no. 100976.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bar.2021.100976


Accounting history, as the history of accounting and the consideration of accounting in history, provides insight into an understanding of accounting in the past, for the present, and into the future. Whilst often viewed as a routine, rule driven practice, the accounting history discipline recognises accounting as having a much wider pervasiveness as social practice and even moral practice. As social practice, accounting affects individual, organisational and societal behaviour. This collection of articles demonstrates the importance of looking at history to provide context and illustrates that understandings of the past lead to comprehension of the present and foresight for the future. The articles in this special issue, international in essence, epitomise the diversity of the accounting history field in exploring accounting in diverse organisations, in investigating accounting in its wider context and in employing different theoretical approaches. In considering the accounting phenomenon that occurred, there is additionally the insight of that which did not occur, the relevance of past events and non-events as an ingredient to better understanding the present and to potentially reshaping the future.

The articles explore of the role of actors/agents around accounting and organisational change, how key individuals and networks of individuals, can influence others, both within and external to the organisation, to enact change or prevent change in areas where accounting contributes. It is suggested that these studies could be extended, to consider more widely the influence of the interaction of individuals via prosopographical or similar studies. This collection of articles has global reach, and we make an additional call for more international, interactional or comparative approaches to studies in accounting history. Accounting history studies can further investigate organisational contexts and situations, exploring reporting internally and externally to the organisation and informing current and future accounting and related practices.

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