"Separated by a Common Subject." Remarks Prepared for Presentation at the Joint International Conference of the BAA Special Interest Groups in Corporate Governance and Public Services Accounting, University of Nottingham 14-15 December 2004.


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When Ron Hodges invited me to address this gathering, what he had in mind was the specific issue of why there is so little interdisciplinary and cross disciplinary work being done on the subject of accountability. Thinking about that task, I realized that I have been spending more time trying to create disciplinary bridges than I have devoted to understanding what creates the divide. So this proved more of a challenge than I had initially expected.

"There are many candidate obstructions and barriers to think about. The most obvious are the disciplines themselves, and it is undeniable that communication across disciplines, schools and departments is often intermittent and politely deferential at best. Within disciplines we typically stick to our own journals and conferences, rarely exploring the relevant work in other fields. Institutional structures and interdepartmental politics at our universities reinforce our myopia, as do the growing demands of the very accountability systems we all study. And to the extent that we believe disciplines reflect distinct paradigms, one can talk about the incommensurability of our intellectual frames and languages.

"Another important factor has been the rather strange and fascinating nature of our subject matter. Just as a common language seems to divide we Americans from you Brits, so our common subject, accountability, may be the most significant barrier to the interdisciplinary work and cross-disciplinary communication that would benefit us all."


Powerpoint presentation for remarks.