The Accounting Historians Journal
Vol. 14, No. 1
George O. Gamble UNIVERSITY OF HOUSTON UNIVERSITY PARK Brian O'Doherty EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY and
M. Hyman TEXAS SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY
THE DEVELOPMENT OF AGENCY THOUGHT: A CITATION ANALYSIS OF THE LITERATURE
Abstract: With the advent of new bibliographic data sources and new analytical techniques, accounting historians may now trace the development of accounting thought with the aid of bibliometric analysis. The objective of this paper is to discuss a social science view of history, discuss essential bibliometric concepts, and provide an example of citation analysis applied to the literature of agency theory — to demonstrate its use in historical research.
In this paper we look at the historical development of a modern accounting research topic, agency theory. Instead of doing this in the traditional intellectual history manner, by a personal exploration of the relevant literature, we employ a much more mechanical and impersonal method and look at the development of agency theory using citation and co-citation analysis. More specifically, we are concerned with employing citation and co-citation analysis to determine: (1) the growth attributes of the agency literature with respect to citations and papers, (2) the influential researchers involved in the develop-ment of the agency literature, (3) the relationship between the most influential papers, (4) how the structure of the agency literature has changed over the 1972-84 time period, and (5) the body of knowledge that has had the greatest impact on the development of the agency literature, as perceived by accounting researchers. We classify our style of history as social science history in contrast to traditional history. The first part of the paper presents the social science approach to historical analysis. Part two presents our historical study of agency theory.