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40 years of Accounting, Organizations and Society

Cover of issue of Accounting, Organizations and Society 

On 1 and 2 May this year, the Department hosted a conference to mark the forthcoming 40th anniversary of the journal Accounting, Organizations and Society (“AOS”) in 2016. The journal opened for business in 1976 and was founded by Anthony Hopwood who was editor in chief until his death in 2010. His first editorial opened with the following words on the social significance of accounting:

Accounting has played a vital role in the development of modern society. To this day it remains the most important formal means of collecting, analysing and communicating information on the financial activities and performance of all forms of organization. And the terminology and underlying calculus of “profits”, “costs” and “assets” continue to exert a profound impact on human consciousness and action.

These words remain as relevant today as they were in 1976 and continue to inform the agenda of AOS. Over four decades the journal supported and published a wide ranging and cumulative body of work from many methodological schools with a common focus, namely to understand the social and organizational roles and conseque4nces of accounting. To mark the achievements of the journal ten papers were commissioned which will be published in 2016. The idea was that each paper would both reflect on, and also develop, key themes from the field of AOS work. In this sense the event was part celebration and retrospection, and part agenda-building for the future.

Over 60 international participants enjoyed ten papers over the two days on: audit judgement research, the evolution of management accounting; accounting space and gender; how new accounting systems incept and take hold; the role and contribution of laboratory studies of accounting practice; accounting for sustainability; regulation and earnings management; accounting and decision making; the entrepreneurialisation of the self and management control; and the history of the roles of accounting in society. A full listing of the papers can be found here.

In his welcoming address, Mike Power, standing in for Peter Miller, paid tribute to Anthony Hopwood’s enduring legacy, and to the great work done by his immediate successor, Chris Chapman, to maintain that legacy while also modernising the editorial process. In addition, he drew attention to the unseen and often unsung work of the many reviewers who support the journal and its standards. The meeting also marked the passing of Ted O’Leary in 2014, whose work with Peter Miller had helped to give AOS, perhaps uniquely among accounting journals, a significant footprint in the wider social sciences. Relatedly, Keith Robson, AOS editor-in-chief elect, in concluding the proceedings, drew attention to the key contribution of “accounting outsiders” like Jim March and John Meyer to the fortunes of AOS over the years, both directly in their publications and also by virtue of their more general support.  

The Department of Accounting at LSE was strongly represented at the event. Indeed, we are proud to boast an Editor and five members of the AOS editorial board – the largest representation from any single institution – and we look forward to supporting the journal in the coming decades.

Professor Michael Power
Professor of Accounting