Past, present and possible future developments in human capital accounting: a tribute to Jan-Erik Gröjer

James Guthrie, Vijaya Murthy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to pay tribute to several of the ideas of Jan-Erik Gröjer by reviewing and critiquing the field of Human Competence Accounting (HCA) since his Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal review article in 1998.Three research questions he posed in that article are now addressed in the current paper: What could be done, as envisaged in the commentary of Gröjer and Johanson; What has been published in HCA research in the ten year period (1999-2008); What more could/should be done in HCA as a research agenda. Design/methodology/approach – A literature based analysis and critique of HCA accounting articles published in the selected journals from 1999 to 2008 is employed. A purpose built coding and classification scheme is built around several categories for the purpose of analysing the HCA literature. Findings – The paper seeks to demonstrate the importance of Gröjer and Johanson's review and indicates that questions they raised and possible research directions have been acted upon by a number of authors. The findings of the analysis indicate that, a decade on from the original review, HCA is a legitimate area for accounting research and is multi-disciplinary and multi-focused in nature. Research limitations/implications – The paper only considers selected HCA articles within the ten journals used over the period 1999-2008.American mainstream positivist research has not been reviewed. Also the categories chosen to represent HCA have several limitations which are addressed in the paper. Originality/value – HCA research has a strong tradition and the Gröjer and Johanson review is an important beacon that provided insights to accounting researchers. The current analysis extends Jan-Erik's work by providing several insights into what has happened and also provides several ideas for future research and policy work in accounting for HCA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-142
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of human resource costing and accounting
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • accounting research
  • accounting valuations
  • competences


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