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Open Access
Article
Publication date: 3 January 2023

Giuseppe Grossi, Ileana Steccolini, Pawan Adhikari, Judy Brown, Mark Christensen, Carolyn Cordery, Laurence Ferry, Philippe Lassou, Bruce McDonald III, Ringa Raudla, Mariafrancesca Sicilia and Eija Vinnari

The purpose of this polyphonic paper is to report on interdisciplinary discussions on the state-of-the-art and future of public sector accounting research (PSAR). The…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this polyphonic paper is to report on interdisciplinary discussions on the state-of-the-art and future of public sector accounting research (PSAR). The authors hope to enliven the debates of the past and future developments in terms of context, themes, theories, methods and impacts in the field of PSAR by the exchanges they include here.

Design/methodology/approach

This polyphonic paper adopts an interdisciplinary approach. It brings into conversation ideas, views and approaches of several scholars on the actual and future developments of PSAR in various contexts, and explores potential implications.

Findings

This paper has brought together scholars from a plurality of disciplines, research methods and geographical areas, showing at the same time several points of convergence on important future themes (such as accounting as a mean for public, accounting, hybridity and value pluralism) and enabling conditions (accounting capabilities, profession and digitalisation) for PSA scholarship and practice, and the richness of looking at them from a plurality of perspectives.

Research limitations/implications

Exploring these past and future developments opens up the potential for interesting theoretical insights. A much greater theoretical and practical reconsideration of PSAR will be fostered by the exchanges included here.

Originality/value

In setting out a future research agenda, this paper fosters theoretical and methodological pluralism in the interdisciplinary research community interested in PSAR in various contexts. The discussion perspectives presented in this paper constitute not only a basis for further research in this relevant accounting area on the role, status and developments of PSAR but also creative potential for practitioners to be more reflective on their practices and also intended and united outcomes of such practices.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 18 September 2017

Matias Laine and Eija Vinnari

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the dynamics and transformative potential associated with counter accounts. It explores how counter-accountants’ attempts to…

2257

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the dynamics and transformative potential associated with counter accounts. It explores how counter-accountants’ attempts to rearticulate animal production result in their own identity becoming constructed during the conflict setting and how this identity subsequently relates to the transformative potential of the counter accounts.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper investigates counter accounts released during an animal rights activists’ campaign against industrial meat and dairy production in Finland. The counter accounts, consisting of secretly filmed videos from pig farms, contrasted the official depiction of animal farming and received wide publicity over several years. The main empirical data set consists of 21 interviews with a variety of parties that have a stake in the conflict. This data set is supplemented with a broad set of published documentary material.

Findings

The authors find that the counter accounts managed, to some extent, to rearticulate the meaning of animal production, potentially resulting in the emergence of small-scale societal effects. When trying to undermine the counter-accountants’ radical political demand, the dominant social groups not only dismissed the counter accounts but also attempted to constitute the counter-accountants’ identity as irresponsible, militant and negligent, drawing a firm political boundary between “them” and “us.” Likewise, the counter-accountants seemed reluctant to communicate with representatives of the dominant regime, resulting in an antagonistic as opposed to an agonistic relationship between the two political groups. The paper also discusses ethical questions concerning the production of counter accounts, the importance of having a clearly articulated political vision, and the challenges related to evaluating whether the counter accounts have been successful.

Originality/value

The paper provides insights into the design, use and reception of counter accounts in a real-life social setting, thus providing a direct response to a recent call by Thomson et al. (2015). The paper illustrates the usefulness of the conceptual dynamic conflict arena framework presented by Thomson et al. (2015), and makes use of discourse theory (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985; Laclau, 2005, 2001, 1996) to highlight how in exploring the transformative potential of counter accounts it is necessary to also consider how the identity of the counter-accountants becomes constructed and understood. Furthermore, the paper also seeks to advance the connections between accounting research and significant global problems by investigating an ethically and environmentally disputed industry, and by engaging with the interrelationships between accounts and accountability in the context of socio-ecological change.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 20 March 2017

Kari Lukka and Eija Vinnari

The purpose of this paper is to examine the philosophical and practical compatibility of actor-network theory (ANT) and interventionist research (IVR) and search for…

1516

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the philosophical and practical compatibility of actor-network theory (ANT) and interventionist research (IVR) and search for explanations for their scant combined use. The scope of investigation is limited to accounting, management and organization studies (MOS), but the findings are believed to be applicable in other social sciences as well.

Design/methodology/approach

An analysis is conducted of accounting and MOS research in addition to interviewing eight accounting scholars who have applied IVR and/or ANT in their research.

Findings

A comparison of the philosophical and other features of ANT and IVR suggests that they should be relatively easily combinable in studies. Based on interview material, three types of barriers to combining ANT and IVR are identified: perceived epistemological incompatibility, fear of going native or losing neutrality and academic tribes. However, subsequent analysis indicates that none of these forms an insurmountable obstacle to the combination.

Research limitations/implications

The combined application of ANT and IVR could benefit both IVR and ANT researchers in management accounting as it would enable them to conduct theoretically grounded studies on dynamic processes, such as the emergence and implementation of accounting innovations, to pose original research questions and to find new perspectives to accounting phenomena.

Practical implications

Employing ANT and IVR in combination could increase organizational interest in management accounting research.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to the discussion on the compatibility of different research approaches and highlights ways in which researchers could benefit from combining ANT and IVR.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 4 July 2022

Kari Lukka, Sven Modell and Eija Vinnari

This paper examines the influence of the normal science tradition, epitomized by the notion that “theory is king”, on contemporary accounting research and the…

1106

Abstract

Purpose

This paper examines the influence of the normal science tradition, epitomized by the notion that “theory is king”, on contemporary accounting research and the epistemological tensions that may emerge as this idea is applied to particular ways of studying accounting. For illustrative purposes, the authors focus on research informed by actor-network theory (ANT) which can be seen as an “extreme case” in the sense that it is, in principle, difficult to reconcile with the normal science aspirations.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper offers an analysis based on a close reading of how accounting scholars, using ANT, theorize, and if they do engage in explicit theorizing, how they deal with the tensions that might emerge from the need to reconcile its epistemological underpinnings with those of the normal science tradition.

Findings

The findings of this paper show that the tensions between normal science thinking and the epistemological principles of ANT have, in a few cases, been avoided, as researchers stay relatively faithful to ANT and largely refrain from further theory development. However, in most cases, the tensions have ostensibly been ignored as researchers blend the epistemology of ANT and that of normal science without reflecting on the implications of doing so.

Originality/value

The paper contributes to emerging debates on the role of the normal science tradition in contemporary accounting research, and also extends recent discussions on the role of theory in accounting research inspired by ANT. The paper proposes three reasons for the observed blending of epistemologies: unawareness of tensions, epistemological eclecticism and various political considerations.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 35 no. 9
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 2 September 2021

Hanna Silvola and Eija Vinnari

The purpose of this paper is to enrich extant understanding of the role of both agency and context in the uptake of sustainability assurance. To this end, the authors…

2797

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to enrich extant understanding of the role of both agency and context in the uptake of sustainability assurance. To this end, the authors examine auditors' attempts to promote sustainability assurance and establish it as a practice requiring the professional involvement of auditors.

Design/methodology/approach

Applying institutional work (Lawrence and Suddaby, 2006) and institutional logics (Thornton, 2002; Thornton et al., 2012) as the method theories, the authors examine interview data and a variety of documentary evidence collected in Finland, a small society characterized by social and environmental values, beliefs in functioning institutions and public trust in companies behaving responsibly.

Findings

With this study, the authors make two main contributions to extant literature. First, the authors illustrate the limits that society-level logics related to corporate social responsibility, together with the undermining or rejected institutional work of other agents, place especially on the political and cultural work undertaken by auditors. Second, the study responds to Power's (2003) call for country-specific studies by exploring a rather unique context, Finland, where societal trust in companies is arguably stronger than in many other countries and this trust appears to affect how actors perceive the need for sustainability assurance.

Originality/value

This is one of the few accounting studies that combines institutional logics and institutional work to study the uptake of a management fashion, in this case sustainability assurance.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Open Access
Article
Publication date: 11 October 2022

Peeter Peda and Eija Vinnari

Uncertainty, a state of unknowing linked to threats and opportunities, is a key characteristic of megaprojects, making it challenging for government officials and…

Abstract

Purpose

Uncertainty, a state of unknowing linked to threats and opportunities, is a key characteristic of megaprojects, making it challenging for government officials and politicians to decide on their initiation. For them, implementation by the private sector adds an extra layer of complexity and uncertainty to megaproject planning. In this context, only a few studies have focussed on governing and the mobilization of uncertainty arguments in communication between government actors and private developers either in favour of or against megaprojects. The purpose of this article is to shed light on how private megaproject proposals progress towards political acceptance or rejection in public decision-making.

Design/methodology/approach

This process of public decision-making on private megaproject proposals is examined in the case of the Helsinki–Tallinn undersea rail tunnel. In line with the interpretive research tradition, the authors’ study draws on a qualitative methodology underpinned by social constructionism. The research process can be characterized as abductive.

Findings

The authors’ findings suggest that while public decision-making on megaprojects is a conflictual and dynamic process, some types of uncertainty are relatively more important in affecting the perceived feasibility of the projects in the eyes of public sector decision-makers.

Originality/value

This study contributes to the debate on uncertainty management in megaprojects, proposing a new type of uncertainty – uncertainty about privateness – which has not been explicitly visible thus far.

Details

Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management, vol. 34 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1096-3367

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 15 February 2016

Kari Lukka and Eija Vinnari

The purpose of this paper is to provide a response to the commentary of Lowe, De Loo and Nama concerning the authors’ previous article, which was published in Accounting

844

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a response to the commentary of Lowe, De Loo and Nama concerning the authors’ previous article, which was published in Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Volume 27 Number 8.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors address the main points of the commentary by Lowe et al.

Findings

In addressing each of these issues, the authors point out a few misunderstandings included in the critique as well as make an attempt to further clarify the previous argument.

Originality/value

The authors maintain that distinguishing between domain theory and method theory in accounting research will be of help to researchers in several ways.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 29 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 16 September 2013

Eija Vinnari and Matias Laine

– The study seeks to add to the understanding of the diffusion and decline of environmental reporting practices.

1722

Abstract

Purpose

The study seeks to add to the understanding of the diffusion and decline of environmental reporting practices.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews and municipal water utility publications are analysed to identify factors which have influenced the diffusion and subsequent decline of environmental reporting practices within the Finnish water sector.

Findings

The findings suggest a dynamic view of the diffusion and decline of environmental reporting, showing that a variety of forces operated jointly over time. The initial swift diffusion may be mostly explained from the perspectives of fad and fashion, whereas the subsequent gradual decline of such reporting appears to have been driven mainly by internal organizational factors and a lack of outside pressure.

Research limitations/implications

The paper relies on a qualitative dataset, implying that extensive care is needed when seeking to generalise or apply the findings to different contexts or organizational fields.

Practical implications

The findings presented here should prove interesting for public sector managers, who are considering how, if at all, their organization should engage in social and environmental reporting.

Originality/value

The paper provides new insights into public sector sustainability reporting and presents reasons for its decline. In addition, the analysis illustrates the applicability of Abrahamson's typology of innovation diffusion to the study of social and environmental reporting practices.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 26 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 2 October 2014

Kari Lukka and Eija Vinnari

The purpose of this paper is to distinguish two roles of theories, domain theory and method theory, and examine their relationships in management accounting research. Are…

7052

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to distinguish two roles of theories, domain theory and method theory, and examine their relationships in management accounting research. Are these two roles explicitly distinguished in management accounting studies? Can this be achieved in an unambiguous manner? Where do ambitions for theoretical contribution lie in management accounting studies that employ method theories?

Design/methodology/approach

The authors develop a conceptual framework for analysing possible relationships between domain theories and method theories in studies and illustrate the theoretical arguments with examples from management accounting studies employing Actor-Network Theory (ANT) as their method theory.

Findings

There can be various types of relationships between domain theories and method theories, and the theoretical ambition of the analysed studies typically focused on domain theories. However, ambiguity can exist with regard to the location of a study's theoretical ambition. Both domain theories and method theories tend to be moving fields, and their interaction can add to this feature.

Research limitations/implications

The suggested conceptual clarification assists in the reconciliation of extreme perspectives that relate to management accounting and theory. It will also help researchers to systematically design their own work and evaluate that of others. An increased understanding of how a field develops as a result of interaction with method theories might perhaps alleviate concerns regarding the value of mobilizing the latter.

Originality/value

The analysis contributes to the on-going debate on the value and effects of employing method theories, or theoretical lenses, in management accounting research.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 27 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 26 February 2014

Eija Vinnari and Peter Skærbæk

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the implementation of risk management as a tool for internal audit activities, focusing on unexpected effects or uncertainties…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the implementation of risk management as a tool for internal audit activities, focusing on unexpected effects or uncertainties generated during its application.

Design/methodology/approach

Public and confidential documents as well as semi-structured interviews are analysed through the lens of actor-network theory to identify the effects of risk management devices in a Finnish municipality.

Findings

The authors found that risk management, rather than reducing uncertainty, itself created unexpected uncertainties that would otherwise not have emerged. These include uncertainties relating to legal aspects of risk management solutions, in particular the issue concerning which types of document are considered legally valid; uncertainties relating to the definition and operationalisation of risk management; and uncertainties relating to the resources available for expanding risk management. More generally, such uncertainties relate to the professional identities and responsibilities of operational managers as defined by the framing devices.

Originality/value

The paper offers three contributions to the extant literature: first, it shows how risk management itself produces uncertainties. Secondly, it shows how internal auditors can assume a central role in the risk management system. Thirdly, it develops Callon's framing/overflowing framework with the notion that multiple frames are linked and create unexpected dynamics, and applies it to the study on the effects of risk management tools in an internal audit context. It shows how, despite recurring attempts to refine risk management, further uncertainties are continuously produced, thus providing an empirical illustration of how reframing and overflowing intertwine in a continual process.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 27 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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