Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to synthesize insights from previous accounting, performance measurement (PM) and accountability research into the rapidly emerging field of knowledge-intensive public organizations (KIPOs). In so doing, it draws upon insights from previous literature and other papers included in this special issue of Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal. Design/methodology/approach: The paper reviews academic analysis and insights provided in the academic literature on accounting, PM and accountability changes in KIPOs, such as universities and healthcare organizations, and paves the way for future research in this area. Findings: The literature review shows that a growing number of studies are focusing on the hybridization of different KIPOs, not only in terms of accounting tools (e.g. performance indicators, budgeting and reporting) but also in relation to individual actors (e.g. professionals and managers) that may have divergent values and thus act according to multiple logics. It highlights many areas in which further robust academic research is needed to guide developments of hybrid organizations in policy and practice. Research limitations/implications: This paper provides academics, regulators and decision makers with relevant insights into issues and aspects of accounting, PM and accountability in hybrid organizations that need further theoretical development and empirical evidence to help inform improvements in policy and practice. Originality/value: The paper provides the growing number of academic researchers in this emerging area with a literature review and agenda upon which they can build their research.