Looking back to move forward: half a century of public sector accounting research through bibliometric analysis

Carmen Barbera, Giuseppe Grossi, Sara Giovanna Mauro, University Bergamo, Ileana Steccolini

Forskningsoutput: KonferensbidragArbetsdokument (paper)Peer review


Public sector accounting scholarship has grown in significance over the last few decades, also as a result of public sector managerialist reforms. This has given rise to the emergence of an increasingly variegated and growing scientific community, flourishing at the intersection among different disciplines, including accounting, public administration, sociology and management (Anessi et al., 2016, Steccolini, 2019). As such, public sector accounting research represents an interesting example of how accounting research can impact well beyond the boundaries of the accounting discipline, while at the same time enriching accounting research with new perspectives.

Our literature review aims at reflecting on the conceptual structure and developments in public sector accounting research over the last five decades (1970-2019), capturing underlying themes and trends and proposing new ways forward for public sector accounting scholarship.

The literature review will address the following questions: 1) What are the themes within public sector accounting that research deal with? 2) How did they evolve over the last 50 years, also reflecting, among the others, the advent of NPM, PSG and austerity?

To address these research questions, the current review carries out a bibliometric analysis using the R-tool “bibliometrix”. Bibliometric analysis appears as one of the most useful approach to perform more objective, reliable and structured reviews of large body of knowledge (e.g., Aria and Cuccurullo, 2017; Vogel and Guttel, 2013). Specifically, the co-word analysis is employed to identify the relationships between documents according to keywords frequently co-occurred in the papers and establish a network of themes and their evolution over time (Cobo et al., 2011; Zupic and Carter, 2013).

The main contributions of the present review lie in (1) its methodological approach, namely the implementation of a bibliometric analysis through the use of new tool and technique as the co-word analysis in the field of public sector accounting, in (2) its contribution to the understanding of accounting research from an historical perspective, and in (3) setting a future research agenda.
StatusPublicerad - 2021-apr.-20
EvenemangInternational Research Society for Public Management 2021 Conference -
Varaktighet: 2021-apr.-20 → …


KonferensInternational Research Society for Public Management 2021 Conference
Förkortad titelIRSPM
Period21-04-20 → …


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