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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Human Resource Costing & Accounting, Volume 16, Issue 4
With the publication of this issue, the Journal of Human Resource Costing and Accounting will cease to exist. After 17 years and a total of 43 issues, the field that the journal has consistently worked to promote is now sufficiently well established to permit all those working within it to successfully pursue the publication of their various contributions in a range of mainstream journals. The ambitions of those colleagues who recognised the need for such a specialist journal in the mid-1990s have not simply been fully realised. They have been exceeded to an extent that was unimaginable at that time.
The journal was established by a group of academics associated with Stockholm University’s Personnel Economics Institute, who were committed to the promotion of human resource costing and accounting as a powerful interdisciplinary approach to the challenge of accounting for people. The first issue was published in 1996, and edited by Ulf Johanson, one of six senior members of the Institute identified on the first issue’s last page. The others were Jan-Erik Grojer, Hunter Mabon, Marianne Nilson, Birgitta Olsson and Ann-Sofi Paul, all of whom were to take responsibility for editorial duties at some point during the next few years. Birgitta Olsson eventually became the permanent editor in 1999, a role she retained for the following nine years, passing the baton to me in January 2008. During Birgitta’s editorship the journal became part of Emerald’s accounting and finance list, with the first issue being published by them in 2005. In 2009 four issues were published for the first time, including a very strong collection of papers in memory of the late Jan-Erik Grojer, who sadly passed away in 2007.
I can still recall the first time I heard about the suggestion that a group of Stockholm human resource specialists were thinking about launching an in-house journal, from a colleague in the business studies department at the University of Stirling. Apparently they had read a paper I had published with John Dyson in 1992 in the British Accounting Review on the prospects for accounting for human worth. Some time later I received an invitation to join the founding editorial board, along with Eric Flamholtz, the scholar who had done so much to inspire all of us. In December 1996 I was invited to give a short series of lectures to doctoral students at Stockholm Business School, providing me with the opportunity to meet the founding editorial collective for the first time. This also proved to be the first of my many visits to Scandinavia, visits which continue to the present day, including in connection with my visiting appointment at the University of Aalborg in Denmark. Although the journal will now cease to exist, there is no possibility that the friendships forged since the mid-1990s will disappear too.
In my view, the greatest single achievement that can be attributed to those colleagues who founded the journal is their success in providing a link between Flamholtz’s seminal work on human resource accounting and the emergence of human capital accounting, a subset of intellectual capital accounting that is quietly beginning to attract growing attention among management academics. Their contribution to finally abandoning the idea that accounting for people really only amounts to finding a way of putting them on the balance sheet, and the many implications that this will have for employees, employers as well as the broader society, cannot be overstated. But the time has now come for this debate to be pursued in different arenas, including both the mainstream journals and the public policy forum.
This final issue contains five papers, the first three of which, at my suggestion, are concerned with aspects of workforce health and wellbeing, a field I believe will in the future become increasingly researched by the intended constituency of this journal. The paper by Vijaya Murthy and James Guthrie provides evidence about the ways in which senior managers at an Australian financial institution made use of work-life balance initiatives to enhance the health and wellbeing of their employees, as well as to the benefit of both the local community and the organisation itself. The paper also contributes further evidence of the potential value of the use of employee self-accounts in the context of human capital reporting. John Dumay and Lisa Marini’s paper reports the findings of an exploratory study of workplace bullying, a phenomenon that would appear to be increasingly prevalent within the workplace and one that can have highly damaging conseque for anyone who finds themselves subject to such actions. Dumay questions whether most contemporary bullying takes place between employees who occupy different hierarchical positions within the organisation, and also warns of the danger that such actions may become a more acceptable aspect of workplace interaction. Arjella van Scheppingen, Nico Baken, Gerard Zwetsloot, Ellen Bos and Frank Berkers’ paper is a case study that details a generative health management initiative designed to promote a greater degree of awareness of the importance of health and wellbeing within a Dutch research foundation. In order to do so they make use of a value case methodology, which they identify as a more organic, inclusive and broadly-based approach than the more familiar business case methodology.
Faisal Faisal, Greg Tower and Rusmin Rusmin’s contribution to the issue exemplifies a research design that continues to be widely subscribed within accounting, finance and management research. In it they test a number of hypotheses relating to the challenges associated with devising meaningful workforce communication strategies in the context of a global sample of public companies. Companies operating within emerging markets are found to provide the greatest level of workforce communication, although much of this information is not really very revealing. In the final paper Nicoleta Maria Ienciu and Dumitru Matiş seek to identify some of the principal attributes that may assist researchers in countries new to academic publishing to be successful in having their work accepted by top quality journals. Their chosen foci for attention are the intellectual capital and human capital subject areas, i.e. the principal foci for the Journal of Human Resource Costing and Accounting over the past 17 years, making this an appropriate paper with which to bring proceedings to a close.