Disciplines and Paradigms in Sustainability Accounting Research – A Systematic Literature Review and Citation Network Study

39 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2022 Last revised: 24 Oct 2022

See all articles by Katrin Hummel

Katrin Hummel

WU Vienna University of Economics and Business

Ute Laun

Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts - Business

Date Written: October 15, 2022

Abstract

This paper provides a thorough overview of the formation of research in sustainability accounting regarding disciplines and paradigms, thereby contributing to a better understanding of their roles in sustainability accounting research. For that purpose, we conduct a systematic literature review and a citation network analysis for a sample of 7,758 articles on sustainability accounting published in journals from business-related disciplines. Citation network analysis allows the identification of research clusters based on citation patterns. The articles are analyzed based on manual coding and computer-assisted textual analysis with regard to topics, research methods and the occurrence of specific words. The results from the analysis are further discussed with five authors of influential papers in the sample. Overall, 80% of the sample articles are published outside accounting journals, which indicates that sustainability accounting topics are examined across various disciplines. The results from the citation network analysis identify five major clusters: two management clusters and three accounting clusters. Content analysis reveals that it is the accounting literature that draws on theories and concepts from the management literature to study sustainability accounting topics, whereas we find almost no interaction with other disciplines in the management clusters. Regarding the paradigmatic divide, two accounting clusters indeed form strictly along the lines of the two paradigms in sustainability accounting research, known as the ‘critical’ and the ‘mainstream’ paradigms. However, a third accounting cluster that comprises more recent literature is composed of literature from both paradigms. Our results indicate that integration between disciplines and paradigms appears to particularly occur during the examination of new phenomena.

Keywords: Sustainability Accounting, Interdisciplinarity, Research Paradigms, Literature Review, Citation Network Analysis

Suggested Citation

Hummel, Katrin and Laun, Ute, Disciplines and Paradigms in Sustainability Accounting Research – A Systematic Literature Review and Citation Network Study (October 15, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3979843 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3979843

Katrin Hummel

WU Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, 1020
Austria

Ute Laun (Contact Author)

Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts - Business ( email )

Insitute of Financial Services Zug IFZ
Suurstoffi 1
Rotkreuz, 6343
Switzerland

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