Purpose: This paper aims to explore the extent to which technology and disruption has been considered within the accounting literature, to introduce the five papers which compose this special issue and to provide an agenda for future research on technology and disruption.
Design/methodology/approach: To explore previous works on the disruptive potential of technology in accounting, the study compares topics in accounting research articles that contain variations of the term “disrupt” with those articles containing variations of the term “technology”. Based on the method first proposed in Marrone and Hammerle (2016), an entity linker application was used to extract key topics from the top 50 accounting journals, and these topics were then compared to determine the extent of thematic intersection.
Findings: A key finding is that accounting academic articles featuring “disruption” are rarely linked with “technology”. The concept of “disruption” has been largely synonymous with crisis, and the crises endured to date have had predominantly social or environmental causes (e.g. the GFC and natural disasters). The literature on technology has coalesced around three broad themes – creation, deployment and protection – which have not been identified as crises triggers so far. This finding underscores the importance of the papers comprising this special issue, which explore enhanced data visualisation, blockchain and social media, as well as considering how such technologies might be managed and their potential for either emancipation or enslavement.
Research limitations/implications: In relation to the review of prior literature, the primary limitation is that a quantitative approach was taken. Whilst this allows for a greater sample size and replication, a qualitative thematic review may reveal additional findings. The primary implication of this research and this special issue collectively is that there is much more to be done in exploring both the potential benefits and limitations of new technologies for accounting.
Originality/value: In relation to the review of prior literature, no previous studies have undertaken a quantitative analysis of the intersection of technology disruption in accounting research. In relation to this special issue, these papers collectively provide a multi-faceted view of how technology can and will transform the practice and potential of accounting in the years ahead. Finally, the provision of a thematic framework and research agenda will assist future researchers in exploring this dynamic and important field.