Exploring accountant’s involvement in circular economy: experiences and perspectives of practitioners

Halari, Anwar and Baric, Marijana (2023). Exploring accountant’s involvement in circular economy: experiences and perspectives of practitioners. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, 20(4) pp. 421–446.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/QRAM-03-2022-0048


Transitioning to a circular economy (CE) requires efforts from a broad range of stakeholders; however, the role of accountants within this remains inconspicuous. Taking individual accountants’ perspective within the UK context, this study aims to investigate the current state of involvement of accountants in the CE (and sustainability more broadly) as well as the barriers that they face.

The authors adopted a multi-perspective investigation drawing on viewpoints from various actors such as qualified accountants, trainee accountants, accountants holding senior positions within sustainability and/or CE and non-accountants with an expertise in sustainability and CE to understand the barriers that accountants face in their involvement in CE. The study consisted of 23 semi-structured interviews with participants at different levels of CE and sustainability engagement.

The authors find that the lack of involvement of accountants in embracing CE principles arises from the conceptual distinction between the perceived nature of sustainability and accounting, and the perceived stereotypical views of accountants, rather than the capabilities of the accountants themselves. This results in tensions of engagement that impede their involvement. The authors therefore offer a deeper, context-bound understanding of the factors that contribute towards a lack of involvement with accountants as key stakeholders in the CE.

Through an exploratory inquiry of accountant’s perspective, and drawing on accounting literature on stereotypes, the authors provide a novel understanding into the nuances, inherent tensions and trade-offs that exist in involving accountants in the CE.

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