A review of Gadamerian and Ricoeurian hermeneutics and its application to interpretive accounting research

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The study seeks to address the research question: “How can Gadamerian and Ricoeurian hermeneutics be operationalized in an interpretive accounting research project”? The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to review the key hermeneutic concepts of philosophers Gadamer and Ricoeur; and second, to share insights from the researcher’s experience of applying Gadamerian and Ricoeurian hermeneutics to an interpretive accounting research project. Design/methodology/approach: The paper draws on the extant literature and the researcher’s own experience using hermeneutics theory in an interpretive accounting research project involving in-depth interviews with organisational managers. Findings: The process of interpretation is described using the core concept of the hermeneutic circle where the reader and the text engage in dialogue. The readers’ pre-understandings play a key role in this dialogue and assist in drawing meaning from the text. However, it is necessary for the reader to adopt a critically reflexive approach remaining alert for both unproductive pre-understandings and hidden power structures and ideologies in the text being interpreted. Each reading of a text involves the completion of one cycle of the hermeneutic circle in which the reader transitions from pre-configuration to configuration and ultimately re-configuration concluding with the reader acquiring new horizons of understanding. The researcher’s experience of applying hermeneutic theory to an interpretive accounting research project are reflected on and nine lessons are offered. Originality/value: These insights will prove valuable to interpretive researchers within the social sciences, including accounting and management studies, as well as those working in the natural sciences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-283
Number of pages23
JournalQualitative Research in Organizations and Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Accounting
  • Gadamer
  • Hermeneutics
  • Interpretive
  • Methodology
  • Ricoeur

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • General Economics,Econometrics and Finance


Dive into the research topics of 'A review of Gadamerian and Ricoeurian hermeneutics and its application to interpretive accounting research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this