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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, Volume 12, Issue 2
Having been a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting (JHRCA) since its inception in the mid-1990s, I was delighted to accept Simon Linacre’s invitation to consider becoming the journal’s new editor as of the current issue. I assume the role at a time when accounting for people, however understood, is a much more important research focus than it was when colleagues in the Personnel Economics Institute at Stockholm University Business School decided to establish the journal. There is little doubt that the journal has contributed significantly to the growing interest in this field since 1996. As the new editor, it is my ambition to continue and enhance this contribution, and to position the JHRCA as the premier journal in the field.
Initially, I wish to acknowledge the work of my predecessor, Birgitta Olsson, in promoting both the journal and the accounting for people field. As a member of the PEI collective, Birgitta was the editor of issue two of volume two of the journal in 1997, becoming its permanent editor in 1999. This was at a time when work on intellectual capital was beginning to have a major influence on thinking about people management worldwide, largely catalysed by developments in her own country of Sweden. Through the pages of the journal, Birgitta has continued to promote research and scholarship on this and kindred issues. In 2004, Birgitta began a dialogue with Emerald Publishers, the result of which was that from volume nine the journal appeared under the company’s imprint; more importantly perhaps, it was now available on line as part of Emerald’s portfolio of electronic publications. Having successfully managed this challenging change process, Birgitta has now decided to pursue some of her many other interests. Fortunately, she has agreed to remain a member of the editorial board as well as a continuing source of help and advice to me in my new role.
It is with great pleasure that I am able to report that Ulf Johanson has also agreed to join the editorial board. Ulf was the editor of the first two issues of the journal in 1996 before moving from Stockholm University, initially to Uppsala University and subsequently to Malardalen University, where he is a senior research professor. Ulf has been involved in research and consultancy in the human resource costing and accounting since the 1970s, having also played a major role in popularising the intellectual capital concept throughout Scandinavia, Europe and more recently across the globe. One of his current interests is health and management control, being a joint editor of a 2007 collection of essays entitled: Work Health and Management Control, with Guy Ahonen and myself. Together with James Guthrie, founding joint editor of the Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal (AAAJ), and my colleague at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, Abigail Marks, over the next few months Ulf will be helping me reconfigure the journal’s editorial board.
Unfortunately, a third PEI colleague, Jan-Erik Grojer, will not be able to assist me in this exercise, having passed away last autumn. Jan-Erik worked closely with Ulf in popularising both human resource costing and accounting and subsequently intellectual capital, interfacing them in their seminal 1998 paper published in AAAJ. In acknowledgement of Jan-Erik’s enduring contribution to these and a number of other fields, a special issue of this journal is planned for 2009, with invited contributions from many of the people he worked with and, more importantly, inspired over the years.
Special issues will be a regular part of the journal’s future as it moves from three to four issues per year. Beyond this information, I have elected not to set out any further ideas we have in mind for the future of the journal at this time. This is planned for my next editorial, by which time I hope to have regained by former time management skills!
All that remains is to say a little about the contents of this issue, which are very much a testament to Birgitta’s editorship of the journal. From Finland, a paper by Ossi Aura, Guy Ahonen and Karl-Erik Sveiby reports the findings of a case study on a worksite fitness programme and the fascinating concept of work ability. Anyone interested in people, accounting and management can learn much from its pages. Beyond Scandinavia, it is Australia that has evidenced the greatest interest in intellectual capital developments. Suresh Cuganesan and Heider Kahn’s paper is a content analysis of voluntary stakeholder disclosure in the Australian banking sector. By contrast, neither human resource accounting nor intellectual capital has been successful in exciting the interest of UK academics during the past 40 years. It is therefore with much pleasure that in my first issue as editor I am in a position to include an empirical piece by Philip Dewe and Verma Shaddra on human resource measurement and reporting in UK organisations. Finally, and mindful of the links between human resource costing and accounting and the task of “putting people on the balance sheet”, Herman Theeke and John Mitchell’s paper builds on Theeke’s earlier contribution to the journal, provocatively visualising human resources as “liabilities” rather than as “assets”.