Accounting and accountability in the Anthropocene

Jan Bebbington, Henrik Österblom, Beatrice Crona, Jean-Baptiste Jouffray, Carlos Larrinaga, Shona Louise Russell, Bert Scholtens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

125 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This paper aims to interrogate the nature and relevance of debates around the existence of, and ramifications arising from, the Anthropocene for accounting scholarship.

Design/methodology/approach: The paper’s aim is achieved through an in-depth analysis of the Anthropocene, paying attention to cross disciplinary contributions, interpretations and contestations. Some points of connection between the Anthropocene and accounting scholarship are then proposed and illuminated through a case study drawn from the seafood sector.

Findings: This paper develops findings in two areas. First, there are suggestions about how accounting scholarship might be further developed by the provocation that thinking about the Anthropocene provides. Second, we suggest new accounting research findings, through engagement with the case study, and propose that the concept of stewardship may re-emerge in discussions about accountability in the Anthropocene.

Research limitations/implications: The paper argues that accounting scholarship focused on social, environmental and sustainability concerns may be further developed by engagement with Anthropocene debates.

Practical implications: While accounting practice might have to change to deal with Anthropocene induces effects, this paper focuses on implications for accounting scholarship.

Social implications: Human wellbeing is likely to be impacted should environmental impacts accelerate. In addition, an Anthropocene framing alters the understanding of nature-human interactions and how this affects accounting thought.

Originality/value: This is the first paper in accounting to seek to establish connections between accounting, accountability and the Anthropocene.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-177
Number of pages26
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number1
Early online date12 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Anthropocene
  • Stewardship
  • Sustainability science
  • Accounting
  • Accountability


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