Broadening the boundaries of accounting: a call for interdisciplinarity in the calculative era

Publication Name

Meditari Accountancy Research


Purpose: This paper aims to present a preliminary exploration of the intersections between the accounting and information systems (IS) disciplines. Using the illustrative example of the COVIDSafe app, released by the Australian federal government in response to the “wicked problem” of COVID-19, we demonstrate the value of interdisciplinarity to broaden the boundaries of accounting beyond a technical orientation to encompass social and moral considerations. Design/methodology/approach: We apply a high-level view of socio-technical theory derived from the IS discipline by using a close-reading method of publicly available media and federal government sources related to the COVIDSafe app collected between April 2020 and April 2021. This theoretical lens allows for an enhanced understanding of the technical, environmental/regulatory, and social subsystems relating to accounting and accountability while supporting interdisciplinary reflection. Findings: Addressing complex and wicked problems in accounting requires interdisciplinary approaches, whereby the accounting discipline must move beyond its technical origins. Dialogue between the accounting and IS disciplines is necessary to gain a deeper appreciation of the social, technical and moral implications of accounting in context. Research limitations/implications: Viewing accounting beyond a technical practice through collaboration between accounting and IS offers a theorisation to consider the multi-dimensional nature of complex societal challenges. This theorisation can support the advancement of our practice and research meaningfully toward a view of accounting that centres on ideas of the public interest and the betterment of society. There remains much scope for progressing this dialogue, and we commend other scholars to engage in interdisciplinary work on the boundaries of accounting. Originality/value: This study illustrates opportunities for accounting and IS approaches to solving “grand challenges”. Further, the study answers multiple calls for interdisciplinary discourse in accounting scholarship by contributing a socio-technical framing toward addressing complex challenges in our calculative era by initiating a dialogue that moves beyond accounting's traditional technical practice or the “accounting information systems” context.

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