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Accounting, accountability, social media and big data: revolution or hype?

Michela Arnaboldi (Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Cristiano Busco (Roehampton University, London, UK) (LUISS Guido Carli, Rome, Italy)
Suresh Cuganesan (The University of Sydney Business School, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to outline an agenda for researching the relationship between technology-enabled networks – such as social media and big data – and the accounting function. In doing so, it links the contents of an unfolding area research with the papers published in this special issue of Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal.


The paper surveys the existing literature, which is still in its infancy, and proposes ways in which to frame early and future research. The intention is not to offer a comprehensive review, but to stimulate and conversation.


The authors review several existing studies exploring technology-enabled networks and highlight some of the key aspects featuring social media and big data, before offering a classification of existing research efforts, as well as opportunities for future research. Three areas of investigation are identified: new performance indicators based on social media and big data; governance of social media and big data information resources; and, finally, social media and big data’s alteration of information and decision-making processes.


The authors are currently experiencing a technological revolution that will fundamentally change the way in which organisations, as well as individuals, operate. It is claimed that many knowledge-based jobs are being automated, as well as others transformed with, for example, data scientists ready to replace even the most qualified accountants. But, of course, similar claims have been made before and therefore, as academics, the authors are called upon to explore the impact of these technology-enabled networks further. This paper contributes by starting a debate and speculating on the possible research agendas ahead.



The authors wish to acknowledge the helpful comments of the reviewers. These have greatly improved the quality of the manuscript and the arguments contained within. In addition, the authors would like to thank Gloria Parker and Rainbow Shum for their expert help in liaising with Emerald and working through Scholar One. The authors are also appreciative of the effort and support of the authors who submitted papers to the special issue and reviewers who devoted their time and effort to the refereeing process. Finally, the authors are immensely grateful for Professor James Guthrie for his practical support intellectual encouragement, and wise counsel as the authors brought this special issue to fruition.

This paper forms part of the Accounting, Accountability, Social Media and Big Data: Revolution or Hype? Special issue.


Arnaboldi, M., Busco, C. and Cuganesan, S. (2017), "Accounting, accountability, social media and big data: revolution or hype?", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 762-776.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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