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The role of accounting in mediating empathic care for the “other”

Steven Dellaportas (School of Accounting, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 20 August 2019

Issue publication date: 19 September 2019




This paper hypothesizes that a system of accounting underpinned by attributions of harm has the capacity, more than conventional accounting, to elicit empathic concern among managers, by becoming the mediating link between organisational responsibility and concern for the “other”.


The literature-inspired reflections presented in this paper stem from the theoretical perspective of care-ethics supported by the notions of empathy and proximity to highlight how the propensity to empathise is mediated by attributions of harm and responsibility.


The proposed “new” accounting, coined “connected accounting” is proposed because of its potential to make visible the neglected and marginalised segments of society that presently lie hidden in conventional accounting. Accounting for the effects of organisational practice on people and society is expected to strengthen the care-ethic relationship between key actors – managers, accountants and stakeholders.

Research limitations/implications

The paper is limited by the assumptions that underpin the conceptualised notion of “Connected Accounting”.


This essay introduces to the accounting ethics literature the role of emotion and empathic care in accounting, including sociological aspects of accounting reflecting the ongoing quest for understanding the processes and consequences of accounting as a social practice.



Dellaportas, S. (2019), "The role of accounting in mediating empathic care for the “other”", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 32 No. 6, pp. 1617-1635.



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