Disciplinary constraints on the advancement of knowledge : The case of organizational incentive systems

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  • Kenneth A Merchant
  • Wim A Van Der Stede
  • Liu Zheng


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-286
Journal / PublicationAccounting, Organizations and Society
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


This paper argues that research progress in accounting has been significantly hindered by the fact that most researchers focus their theories and perspectives on a single research discipline. The point is illustrated by discussing research in the area of organizational incentive systems. The relevant base disciplines in this area are economics and several behavioral sciences (primarily psychology and sociology). The paper uses a citation and content analysis to show that the economics- and behavioral-based empirical papers published in accounting journals differ significantly and that there is little cross-fertilization between them. It then discusses the reasons contributing to the single discipline foci and describes how research would be improved if the disciplinary parochialism were reduced. © 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

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