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Accounting, performance management systems and accountability changes in knowledge-intensive public organizations: A literature review and research agenda

Giuseppe Grossi (Kristianstad University, Kristianstad, Sweden) (Department of Economic Analysis and Accounting, Nord University, Bodo, Norway)
Kirsi-Mari Kallio (Pori Unit, Turku School of Economics, University of Turku, Pori, Finland) (Department of Accounting and Logistics, School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden)
Massimo Sargiacomo (Department of Business Administration, D’Annunzio University of Chieti–Pescara, Pescara, Italy) (Department of Social Sciences, Gran Sasso Science Institute, L’Aquila, Italy)
Matti Skoog (Faculty of Social Sciences, Business and Economics, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland) (Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 12 June 2019

Issue publication date: 17 January 2020




The purpose of this paper is to synthesize insights from previous accounting, performance measurement (PM) and accountability research into the rapidly emerging field of knowledge-intensive public organizations (KIPOs). In so doing, it draws upon insights from previous literature and other papers included in this special issue of Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal.


The paper reviews academic analysis and insights provided in the academic literature on accounting, PM and accountability changes in KIPOs, such as universities and healthcare organizations, and paves the way for future research in this area.


The literature review shows that a growing number of studies are focusing on the hybridization of different KIPOs, not only in terms of accounting tools (e.g. performance indicators, budgeting and reporting) but also in relation to individual actors (e.g. professionals and managers) that may have divergent values and thus act according to multiple logics. It highlights many areas in which further robust academic research is needed to guide developments of hybrid organizations in policy and practice.

Research limitations/implications

This paper provides academics, regulators and decision makers with relevant insights into issues and aspects of accounting, PM and accountability in hybrid organizations that need further theoretical development and empirical evidence to help inform improvements in policy and practice.


The paper provides the growing number of academic researchers in this emerging area with a literature review and agenda upon which they can build their research.



The authors are grateful for comments and critiques from anonymous AAAJ reviewers and AAAJ editor, James Guthrie. The views and conclusions expressed within remain the responsibility of the authors.

Publisher’s note. This is an introductory paper from the Special Forum in AAAJ Volume 32 Issue 3 on: Accountability and performance challenges in knowledge intensive public organisations (Guest Editors: Giuseppe Grossi, Kirsi-Mari Kallio, Massimo Sargiacomo and Matti Skoog). The publisher wishes to apologise to the authors for its ommission.


Grossi, G., Kallio, K.-M., Sargiacomo, M. and Skoog, M. (2020), "Accounting, performance management systems and accountability changes in knowledge-intensive public organizations: A literature review and research agenda", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 33 No. 1, pp. 256-280.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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