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Article
Publication date: 12 November 2018

Hans ten Rouwelaar, Jan Bots and Ivo De Loo

The purpose of this paper is to investigate which factors stimulate or hinder the influence management accountants operating at the business unit (BU) level have on the…

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1523

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate which factors stimulate or hinder the influence management accountants operating at the business unit (BU) level have on the decisions taken by their BU manager(s).

Design/methodology/approach

The authors collected data from 119 management accountants in 77 Dutch, multi-divisional organizations, using surveys.

Findings

The study shows that influence on managerial decisions can have two forms: influence on strategic decisions, and influence on operating decisions. Influence on strategic decisions is positively related to the degree of decentralization of an organization. It also depends on whether a management accountant is more extravert and emotionally stable. There is a negative relationship between influence on operational decisions and management accountants’ agreeableness. Not being sufficiently critical may well diminish their influence on operational affairs.

Research limitations/implications

The authors put the view that management accountants at the BU level can partially affect their own role. This may also be expected by their managers. There are more opportunities for management accountants to influence strategic decisions than operational decisions. This study, however, is limited to Dutch, multi-divisional organizations. The management accountants who completed the survey also belong to the personal networks of master degree students who assisted in the data collection process, so that the sample used is not random. Data collected in another country, or in smaller companies could yield different results.

Practical implications

Knowing more about the complex relationship between BU management accountants’ personality traits and their degree of influence on managerial decisions allows organizations to make better-informed choices about who to appoint in such a role.

Originality/value

This study distinguishes between management accountants’ influence on strategic decisions and influence on operational decisions. At the BU level, these are two distinct concepts. This reinforces findings from earlier studies conducted at the corporate level. In addition, it turns out that specific personality traits of management accountants, at the BU level, affect the influence they can exert on both strategic and operational decisions taken by their manager(s).

Details

Journal of Applied Accounting Research, vol. 19 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-5426

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2002

Ivo De Loo

Action learning is one of the “action science” or “action oriented research methods” one finds in the literature. The method is to be used when a firm or a manager is…

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1450

Abstract

Action learning is one of the “action science” or “action oriented research methods” one finds in the literature. The method is to be used when a firm or a manager is confronted with complex, non‐routine problems for which no standard solutions exist. As a result of applying the method, new problem solving strategies may be identified and personal growth may be realized. The action learning literature suggests that thereafter, organizational growth will occur as well. However, transferring personal into organizational growth is a process that is less clear‐cut than is mostly thought. Knowledge management systems have to be set up in order to avoid moral hazard from appearing, so that an organization may reap the full benefits of an action learning program. The institutions that shape an organization, and organizational culture in particular, influence the structure of such a system. Unless these elements are sufficiently taken into account, they may explain why action learning fails to achieve its wider potential, as is sometimes proclaimed in the literature.

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Journal of Workplace Learning, vol. 14 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1366-5626

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Article
Publication date: 16 October 2017

Ivo de Loo and Alan Lowe

The starting point for this paper is that the researcher is intimately bound up in all aspects of the research process. This idea of what is a critical aspect of much…

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1594

Abstract

Purpose

The starting point for this paper is that the researcher is intimately bound up in all aspects of the research process. This idea of what is a critical aspect of much interpretive methodology has been challenged by some proponents of the interpretive accounting research (IAR) project. The authors suggest that adopting some of the views expounded in the IAR project may lead to the accounting research community becoming isolated from other interpretive methodology inspired disciplines. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

Currently popular views on IAR are informed by selective theoretical insights from interpretive sociology. The authors argue that these insights cannot provide a general frame with which to encapsulate accounting research that may be reasonably termed “interpretive.”

Findings

The authors’ reading of the literature suggests that the some of the IAR literature exhibits: a tendency to routinely make overly specific claims for what it is possible for interpretive research to achieve; the promotion of a somewhat reductionist view of what the bounds of interpretive research are. The authors suggest that these tendencies detract from the strengths of (adopting a broad view of) IAR.

Research limitations/implications

In expressing the authors’ concerns, the authors do not wish to make an exclusive argument for what IAR is and is not. This would not be in line with writing an interpretive paper. While the authors do not eschew the possibility of a limited building of knowledge by applying interpretive methodological stances neither do the authors see such activity as a central plank of interpretive research.

Practical implications

The authors believe that positivistic commentaries on qualitative enquiry should not be taken as exemplary of interpretive research (in accounting – or elsewhere). The authors feel that IAR needs to be more open to an array of subjectivist motivations, if it is to provide useful critique of the nature of day-to-day accounting practice.

Originality/value

The authors seek to go beyond the rather unhelpful debate about whether IAR should be seen to possess both objective and subjective elements. The authors argue that IAR suffers more from a lack of engagement and debate than it faces dangers from areas of interpretive methodology that adopt positions considered to be too subjectivist.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 27 April 2020

Bikram Chatterjee, Carolyn J. Cordery, Ivo De Loo and Hugo Letiche

In this paper, we concentrate on the use of research assessment (RA) systems in universities in New Zealand (NZ) and the United Kingdom (UK). Primarily we focus on PBRF…

Abstract

Purpose

In this paper, we concentrate on the use of research assessment (RA) systems in universities in New Zealand (NZ) and the United Kingdom (UK). Primarily we focus on PBRF and REF, and explore differences between these systems on individual and systemic levels. We ask, these days, in what way(s) the systemic differences between PBRF and REF actually make a difference on how the two RA systems are experienced by academic staff.

Design/methodology/approach

This research is exploratory and draws on 19 interviews in which accounting researchers from both countries offer reflections on their careers and how RA (systems) have influenced these careers. The stories they tell are classified by regarding RA in universities as a manifestation of the spectacle society, following Debord (1992) and Flyverbom and Reinecke (2017).

Findings

Both UK and New Zealand academics concur that their research activities and views on research are very much shaped by journal rankings and citations. Among UK academics, there seems to be a greater critical attitude towards the benefits and drawbacks of REF, which may be related to the history of REF in their country. Relatively speaking, in New Zealand, individualism seems to have grown after the introduction of the PBRF, with little active pushback against the system. Cultural aspects may partially explain this outcome. Academics in both countries lament the lack of focus on practitioner issues that the increased significance of RA seems to have evoked.

Research limitations/implications

This research is context-specific and may have limited applicability to other situations, academics or countries.

Practical implications

RA and RA systems seem to be here to stay. However, as academics we can, and ought to, take responsibility to try to ensure that these systems reflect the future of accounting (research) we wish to create. It is certainly not mainly or solely up to upper management officials to set this in motion, as has occasionally been claimed in previous literature. Some of the academics who participated in this research actively sought to bring about a different future.

Originality/value

This research provides a unique contextual analysis of accounting academics' perspectives and reactions to RA and RA systems and the impact these have had on their careers across two countries. In addition, the paper offers valuable critical reflections on the application of Debord's (1992) notion of the spectacle society in future accounting studies. We find more mixed and nuanced views on RA in academia than many previous studies have shown.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2006

Ivo De Loo

To highlight the relevance of management control in action learning programs that aim to foster organizational learning.

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1133

Abstract

Purpose

To highlight the relevance of management control in action learning programs that aim to foster organizational learning.

Design/methodology/approach

Literature review plus case study. The latter consists of archival analysis and multiple interviews.

Findings

When action learning programs are built around singular learning experiences, it can be questioned that organizational learning will materialize. This may be overcome by using action learning as a form of management control.

Research limitations/implications

The issue whether organizational learning can be achieved by connecting management control and action learning has as of yet not been acknowledged in the action learning literature, even though it is in line with the goals of the approach. Alas, it may be that our results are not easily applicable in other organizations. More research is necessary to assess this.

Practical implications

We show that when action learning is used as a form of management control, organizational learning may be facilitated.

Originality/value

Hardly ever are management control issues considered in action learning programs. This paper takes a “lessons learned” perspective to do this, and provides valuable input for further research.

Details

The Learning Organization, vol. 13 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0969-6474

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Article
Publication date: 22 June 2021

Ivo De Loo and Pieter Kamminga

During choir rehearsals, a conductor continuously holds choir members accountable for what they do and how they sing. Hence, members are held accountable through action…

Abstract

Purpose

During choir rehearsals, a conductor continuously holds choir members accountable for what they do and how they sing. Hence, members are held accountable through action. This allows a conductor to emphasize his/her expertise and underline his/her authority. Choir members typically respond in certain ways when this is done, for instance by commenting on the feedback they receive or by trying to improve their singing. The interplay between these accounts, how they develop over time, and what they (do not) accomplish in terms of human relatedness are the focus of this study. We use Bauman's (1993) conceptualization of social space to investigate these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

By providing reasons for their conduct and behaving in a certain way, a conductor and choir members, but also a choir's management, can alter their position in social space. Thereby, they solidify or change how they relate to other individuals in the choir. Bauman assumes that processes of social spacing require so-called “misunderstandings”. We examine seven misunderstandings that occurred in a particular rehearsal of a top-level amateur choir, analyzing their impact on human relatedness. Video analysis methods, interviews and photo-elicitation are the main research methods used.

Findings

We find both short-term and long-term effects of misunderstandings on human relatedness, and offer two extensions of Bauman's (1993) conception of social space. Firstly, we assert that there is a reflective side to processes of social spacing that needs to be taken into account when changes in human relatedness are discussed. Secondly, we find that the emotional impact of accountability on how individuals behave ought not to be underestimated, as this can have lasting effects on how people relate to one another.

Originality/value

This research makes two contributions to the extant literature. It is shown how accountability through action unfolds when people engage in leisurely activity, and how this affects the way they relate to one another – in sometimes unintentional and unpredictable ways. It also extends a well-known theoretical framework on social space that has seen little application in the accounting literature. This framework is adapted so that it may be used more fruitfully in future accounting studies.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 20 April 2015

Ivo De Loo, Stuart Cooper and Melina Manochin

This paper aims to clarify what ‘narrative analysis’ may entail when it is assumed that interview accounts can be treated as (collections of) narratives. What is…

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1180

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to clarify what ‘narrative analysis’ may entail when it is assumed that interview accounts can be treated as (collections of) narratives. What is considered a narrative and how these may be analyzed is open to debate. After suggesting an approach of how to deal with narrative analysis, the authors critically discuss how far it might offer insights into a particular accounting case.

Design/methodology/approach

After having explained what the authors’ view on narrative analysis is, and how this is linked with the extant literature, the authors examine the socialisation processes of two early career accountants that have been articulated in an interview context.

Findings

The approach to narrative analysis set out in this paper could help to clarify how and why certain interpretations from an interview are generated by a researcher. The authors emphasise the importance of discussing a researcher’s process of discovery when an interpretive approach to research is adopted.

Research limitations/implications

The application of any method, and what a researcher thinks can be distilled from this, depends on the research outlook he/she has. As the authors adopt an interpretive approach to research in this paper, they acknowledge that the interpretations of narratives, and what they deem to be narratives, will be infused by their own perceptions.

Practical implications

The authors believe that the writing-up of qualitative research from an interpretive stance would benefit from an explicit acceptance of the equivocal nature of interpretation. The way in which they present and discuss the narrative analyses in this paper intends to bring this to the fore.

Originality/value

Whenever someone says he/she engages in narrative analysis, both the “narrative” and “analysis” part of “narrative analysis” need to be explicated. The authors believe that this only happens every so often. This paper puts forward an approach of how more clarity on this might be achieved by combining two frameworks in the extant literature, so that the transparency of the research is enhanced.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article
Publication date: 17 May 2011

Ivo De Loo, Bernard Verstegen and Dirk Swagerman

The goal of this paper is to use a coherent conceptual framework to discern variables (triggers) that affect a management accountant's role in an organization, thereby…

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11176

Abstract

Purpose

The goal of this paper is to use a coherent conceptual framework to discern variables (triggers) that affect a management accountant's role in an organization, thereby generating a comprehensive empirical picture of the management accountant profession in The Netherlands. Similar research was conducted in 2004, which allows a comparison of the data to see if, and to what extent, developments in the profession have taken place.

Design/methodology/approach

Using survey data, groups of management accountants are distinguished based on coherent combinations of activities. Factor and cluster analyses are applied to obtain a segmentation of the data. By doing this, it is established if homogeneous groups of management accountants can be distinguished, how many groups there are and what the characteristics of these groups are in terms of activities.

Findings

It was found that controllers either operate as “reporting business analysts” or “business system analysts”. Whether someone is found to be a reporting business analyst or business system analyst is among other things affected by personality traits, a person's experience in finance and accounting, the financial status of an organization and changes in laws and regulations.

Research limitations/implications

The conceptual framework proposed integrates several previous studies on the roles of management accountants. It allows an analysis of their activities, yielding an empirically founded classification of management accountants in groups. In addition, possible factors underlying this classification can be discerned. As this is a generally applicable framework, it can, at a later stage, be used to make a comparison between countries, for instance in Europe.

Practical implications

The resulting picture of the management accountant profession provides information on how to form or even design the financial function in an organization. Apparently, the developments in the profession reflect changes in the business environment and society as a whole, as it seems that internal analysis and risk management have become more fundamental to the profession.

Originality/value

This research uses an original framework covering several previous studies to generate a comprehensive empirical picture of the management accountant profession in The Netherlands. The framework is used to track changes over a three‐year period.

Details

European Business Review, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0955-534X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2001

Ivo De Loo and Bernard Verstegen

In theory, action learning programs should lead to personal growth, and thereby also to organizational growth. Especially the occurrence of organizational growth can be…

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1014

Abstract

In theory, action learning programs should lead to personal growth, and thereby also to organizational growth. Especially the occurrence of organizational growth can be questioned however. Three explanations are offered to explain the lack of organizational growth that seems to result when action learning programs are evaluated in practice: differences in perspectives, group problems, and hold‐up effects. They all turn out to serve as valuable explanations.

Details

Journal of European Industrial Training, vol. 25 no. 2/3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0590

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Article
Publication date: 15 February 2016

Alan D. Lowe, Ivo De Loo and Yesh Nama

The purpose of this paper is to constructively discuss the meaning and nature of (theoretical) contribution in accounting research, as represented by Lukka and Vinnari…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to constructively discuss the meaning and nature of (theoretical) contribution in accounting research, as represented by Lukka and Vinnari (2014) (hereafter referred to as LV). The authors aim is to further encourage debate on what constitutes management accounting theory (or theories) and how to modestly clarify contributions to the extant literature.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach the authors take can be seen as (a)n interdisciplinary literature sourced analysis and critique of the movement’s positioning and trajectory” (Parker and Guthrie, 2014, p. 1218). The paper also draws upon and synthesizes the present authors and other’s contributions to accounting research using actor network theory.

Findings

While a distinction between domain and methods theories … may appear analytically viable, it may be virtually impossible to separate them in practice. In line with Armstrong (2008), the authors cast a measure of doubt on the quest to significantly extend theoretical contributions from accounting research.

Research limitations/implications

Rather than making (apparently) grandiose claims about (theoretical) contributions from individual studies, the authors suggest making more modest claims from the research. The authors try to provide a more appropriate and realistic approach to the appreciation of research contributions.

Originality/value

The authors contribute to the debate on how theoretical contributions can be made in the accounting literature by constructively debating some views that have recently been outlined by LV. The aim is to provide some perspective on the usefulness of the criteria suggested by these authors. The authors also suggest and highlight (alternative) ways in which contributions might be discerned and clarified.

Details

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

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