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Realizing the potential of interdisciplinarity in accounting research

Brendan O’Dwyer (University of Amsterdam Business School, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands and School of Management, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK)
Jeffrey Unerman (School of Management, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 2 October 2014




The purpose of this paper is to explore the meaning of interdisciplinarity in accounting research and the possible benefits of moving toward a more integrated interdisciplinary approach. It also examines the drawbacks and institutional impediments to such a move.


The paper draws upon and synthesizes the authors’ experiences of involvement in the interdisciplinary accounting community over the past two decades.


The paper distinguishes between interdisciplinarity at the field level and interdisciplinarity within individual studies. Noting a lack of study-level interdisciplinarity within accounting research, it explores the potential for novel insights emerging from encouragement of such an approach.

Research limitations/implications

Institutional impediments to study-level interdisciplinarity need to be addressed if the accounting academy is to realize the potentially powerful benefits and social contribution of such an approach to research. A key limitation is that the paper is based primarily on the observations and perspectives of the authors.


The paper provides a distinction between field-level and study-level interdisciplinarity.



The authors are grateful to Lee Parker and James Guthrie for their encouragement to write this paper and to the two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on a previous version of the paper.


O’Dwyer, B. and Unerman, J. (2014), "Realizing the potential of interdisciplinarity in accounting research", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 27 No. 8, pp. 1227-1232.



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