Call for Papers: Accounting for a Circular Economy


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For this Special Issue of Accounting Forum—in collaboration with the 8th North American Congress on Social and Environmental Accounting Research (8th CSEAR NA), we invite scholarly reflections on the role of accounting in the circular economy. Proponents of the circular economy call for a transformation of current corporate practices from a linear “take-make-waste” into an infinite loop where waste and pollution are “designed out,” materials are continually (re)used and natural systems are protected (Ellen Maccarthur Foundation, 2019). Academically, it can be defined as “an economic model wherein planning, resourcing, procurement, production and reprocessing are designed and managed, as both process and output, to maximize ecosystem functioning and human well-being” (Murray, Skene, & Haynes, 2017, p. 377). Aware of planetary boundaries and societal challenges, the circular economy is gaining momentum and could play a significant role in supporting the achievement of many of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Despite the essential role of accounting to achieve a circular economy, the topic has been surprisingly neglected by accounting research. The aim of this special issue is to initiate a conversation about how accounting practice and scholarship could contribute to the circular economy movement. We invite both conceptual and empirical submissions drawing on a range of theoretical perspectives and diverse methodologies. Essays and viewpoints are also welcome. While not representing an exhaustive list, the following topic areas highlight potential research themes linked to the circular economy context:

  • Reflections on accountability in a circular economy context: What does it entails? How should it be developed?
  • Analyses of how accounting can enable or constrain the transition to a circular economy business model
  • Analyses of how accounting can enable or constrain systemic thinking
  • Analysis of accounting for waste or for a particular type of waste (e.g. food, plastic, packaging)
  • Analyses of the role of reporting guidelines such as the GRI Standard for waste, Integrated Reporting, ISO 14040 and 14044, etc., in the circular economy movement
  • Analyses of how the adoption of a circular economy model links to the attainment of some of the UN SDG’s targets.
  • Critical evaluations of the consequences of mobilizing accounting in the circular economy movement
  • Studies of accounting used by bridging entities, such as platform organizations, professional associations or geographical conglomerates
  • Use of accounting by states or transnational organizations for circular purposes
  • Studies of accounting used with a function and/or a life-cycle analysis perspective

Authors are invited to contact the Guest Editors should they want to suggest a theme of inquiry or validate whether a research topic falls within the scope of the call for papers.

Guest Ediors:

  • Diane-Laure Arjaliès, Ivey Business School, Western University (darjalies@ivey.ca)
  • Michelle Rodrigue, École de comptabilité, Université Laval (michelle.rodrigue@fsa.ulaval.ca)
  • Andrea (Andi) Romi, Rawls College of Business, Texas Tech University (andrea.romi@ttu.edu)