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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, Volume 14, Issue 1
Looking back over the past 12 months, there are many indications that the journal continues to make progress. The objective of publishing four issues per year has been achieved and will continue in the future. Coverage has also broadened, with a greater balance between costing and accounting contributions, and those that might initially be designated as focusing on human resources. These continue to emanate from across the globe. At the same time, the interdisciplinary credentials of the journal have been reinforced, accompanied by a broader range of methodological underpinnings to the various contributions. The special issue dedicated to the memory of Jan-Erik Grojer included papers written by many of the key figures in the accounting for people field, past, present and future. And all the while more and more colleagues are visiting the journal’s web pages, downloading papers and citing them in their own contributions to the literature.
In order to continue this upward trajectory a conference is being planned for April 2011. The venue will be Edinburgh, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and at that time of the year much quieter, and arguably more civilised, than during its iconic International Festival. A previous conference was organised by Birgitta Olsson and held in Stockholm in December 2006, while in the early days, colleagues from the Personnel Economics Institute at Stockholm Business School, the birthplace of the journal, decamped to Stirling in 1996 for a research symposium as part of the launch process. In this way, the 2011 conference can be seen as something of a homecoming, complete with kilts for those hardy enough to wear them (properly). Further information will soon be made available on the journal’s web pages.
All four papers in this issue have a strong intellectual capital or intangibles emphasis, which is understandable given the impetus that the emergence of the intellectual capital field gave to the accounting for people theme. In my editorial to Issue 4 of Volume 12, I indicated that, among other things, I would keen to publish papers that have a strong theoretical content. This is not simply a matter of personal taste. In the feedback from the panel for the business and management unit of assessment (36) at the UK Research Assessment Exercise 2008, there was significant emphasis placed on the balance of theoretical and empirical contents in papers deemed to be of high quality.
Given the relative absence of theoretical work in the intellectual capital and intangibles accounting field in recent years, I am therefore delighted to be able to include two such papers in this issue. Christian Nielsen and Henrik Dane-Nielsen draw on the emergent properties literature in an attempt to promote a greater understanding of the different levels of intellectual capital. In this way, they engage in an exercise of social scientific theorising, something that is clearly signified in the sub-title of the paper itself. By contrast, the paper by Tony Tollington and Nevine El-Tawy is more introspective in nature and seeks to enhance our understanding of intangible recognition by embracing an artefact-based approach. In such an approach, emphasis is placed on outputs, i.e. what people create, rather than on the more familiar input orientation, which focuses on investments in human assets.
The remaining two papers are principally empirical in content. Md Habib-Uz-Zaman Khan and Md Mohobbot Ali review intellectual capital disclosures by 20 private commercial banks, identifying a strong emphasis on human capital disclosures, something untypical of many similar studies. They also provide some preliminary insights on how key user groups would wish to see such disclosures extended. The final paper by John C. Dumay and Jiayang Lu is a case study of human capital disclosures by Westpac Bank, an organisation that has seemingly radically transformed its human capital management philosophy since the beginning of the decade. The authors conclude that there may be a degree of rhetoric present in Westpac’s disclosure activities, arguing that embracing a more balanced emphasis may ultimately prove more beneficial to employees and employers alike.