Reflections on interdisciplinary critical intellectual capital accounting research: Multidisciplinary propositions for a new future

John Dumay*, James Guthrie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: In 2001, the Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal (AAAJ) published a special issue entitled “Managing, measuring and reporting intellectual capital for the new millennium”. After 20 years, we revisit the eight articles in this special issue to trace early developments in interdisciplinary intellectual capital (IC) accounting research, link these developments to the current state of play, and set out an agenda for future research. The paper aims to discuss this issue. 

Design/methodology/approach: This paper, written reflectively, includes an impact assessment of the articles using citation analysis and a thematic framing of the prominent issues they discussed. We critically reflect on the status of these eight foundational papers after 20 years, before presenting propositions for a multidisciplinary IC research future.

Findings: We find that IC research needs to extend beyond organisational boundaries to help improve human rights, human dignity and the human condition as part of the wider interdisciplinary accounting project. We argue that fifth stage IC research can assist because it explores beyond organisational boundaries and helps address the wicked problems of the world. 

Research limitations/implications: This paper only investigates the themes found in the AAAJ special issue. However, the implications for researchers are intended to be transformational because, to go forward and help resolve the material issues facing society and the planet, researchers need to move from being observers to participants.

Originality/value: We argue that IC researchers must embrace both interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary IC research. This requires IC researchers to reflect on what they are trying to achieve and which issues facing the planet are material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2282-2306
Number of pages25
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019


  • Critical IC
  • IC accounting
  • IC reporting and disclosure
  • Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary IC
  • Knowledge economy
  • Management


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