Argumentation and Research Design in Accounting

REG514 Argumentation and Research Design in Accounting

  • Topics


    The course introduces concepts of logical, practical and scholarly argumentation. Furthermore, methods of rhetoric, argumentation and discourse analysis are presented. Special emphasis is given to scholarly argumentation in the various elements of a project, such as problem analysis, concept analysis and theoretical argumentation, choice of meta-theoretical basis as well as methodical structure and procedure. The implications of using various philosophies of science, such as positivism, rationalism and constructivism, as meta-theoretical basis for analysing research problems and for the design of work paradigms are discussed during the course. Various interpretations of research criteria, such as validity, reliability and truth, are also studied.

  • Learning outcome

    Learning outcome

    Scholarly argumentation forms a crucial dimension of producing a solid research contribution. Scholarly argumentation is important in all the steps and parts of research, e.g. for formulating clear problem statements, for structuring and linking the major dimensions of a research project in order to address the central research problem (research design), for sound use of concepts and theories, and for addressing the notions of validity and truth. The course is intended to develop the participants¿ ability to make sound research argumentation by presenting methods and theories for analyzing and evaluating theoretical and practical argumentation. The course should enable the participants to analyse and evaluate the soundness of the research designs and argumentation applied in academic work. In particular, the participants should be enabled to provide argumentation for the various forms of work paradigms of their project in which the scientific goals and the subject of the study are linked by systematic structure and argumentation.

     After completing the course the participants should :

    • have advanced knowledge about principles and methods for sound research argumentation
    • be able to analyse and evaluate the soundness of the research designs and argumentation applied in academic work.
    • be able to provide argumentation for the various forms of work paradigms of their project in which the scientific goals and the subject of the study are linked by systematic structure and argumentation.

  • Teaching


    The course consists of three intensive two¿day sessions. Individual studies are required prior to each meeting. The first session addresses logical and practical argumentation, concentrating on sound and non¿sound argumentation. Furthermore, basic rhetorical terminologies and tools for text analysis are introduced (including stylistic devices such as tropes, figures and lexis in general). Various academic texts will be analysed and discussed in class, with focus on the argumentation and the discourse universes that they produce. The second session addresses research design. It builds on presentations and discussions of the course literature by the participants. One participant will assume the role presenter and another student will be assigned the role of opponent. At the third session, each participant will present arguments for different research designs related to his/her own research project; these will be discussed by the other participants.  

    Final paper

    For the final paper, each student has to prepare a paper demonstrating sound argumentation related to his/her own research project. All participants are asked to provide a ten¿page summary of their project designs and present this to the other participants. The project designs should i) provide a theoretical analysis of a concept of importance to the research project and ii) link the scientific goal and problem of the project to the major elements of the work paradigm and analyse the probability of meeting the scientific criteria.


  • Required prerequisites

    Required prerequisites

    The course assumes basic background knowledge within philosophy of science and methodology.

  • Assessment


    Active participation in the course meetings, in the form of presentations and discussions of selected articles, is required. Additionally, participants should obtain a passing grade on the final paper on research design related to their own project.


  • Grading Scale

    Grading Scale

    Grading: Pass / fail

  • Computer tools

    Computer tools


  • Semester


    Autumn. Currently not offered.

  • Literature


    The course literature consists of texts on argumentation and rhetoric in general as well as articles from academic journals in the accounting field, such as AOS, AAAJ, MAR and AR.  

      Session 1: Argumentation, rhetoric, research design and discourse, October 9-10

    Basic L iterature

    Rhetoric and Argumentation

    1. Corbett, E.P.J. & R. J. Connors, 1999, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, New York; Oxford, Oxford Univ. Press, Chapter II (page 27-71) and Chapter IV(377-411) [These chapters are meant to be read as an introduction to core aspects of Classical Rhetoric and Argumentation]
    2. Booth, W. C., Colomb G. G., and Williams J.M. (2003) The Craft of Research, Chicago Guides to Writing, Chapter 4, 7-10, and 15; The chapter draws on Toulmin.
    3. Arbnor & Bjerke (2007): Methodology for Creating Business Knowledge, Sage. Chapter 1
    4. Chua, W.F. (1986), ¿Radical developments in accounting thought.¿ The Accounting Review, pp.601-32. - Read briefly.
    5. Hand outs at the meeting


    Supplementary references:

    1. Arbnor & Bjerke (2007): Methodology for Creating Business Knowledge, Sage.
    2. Aristotle's Rhetoric.
    3. Baldvinsdottir, G.; Mitchell, F.; Norreklit, H. ¿ in the relationship between theory and practice in management accounting¿ Management Accounting Research, Vol.21, No.2, 2010. -
    4. Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams, 2003, The Craft of Research, Chicago Guides to Writing.
    5. Corbett, E.P.J. & R. J. Connors, 1999, Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student, New York; Oxford, Oxford Univ. Press.
    6. Greg Restall Logic ¿ an introduction, Routledge
    7. Hitchcock, D. & Verheij, B. (eds.) Arguing on the Toulmin Model. New Essays in Argument Analysis and Evaluation. Springer: Dordrecht, 2006
    8. Lukka, K. roles and effects of paradigms in accounting researchManagement Accounting Research Accounting Research, Vol.21, No.2, 2010.
    9. Kari Lukka, Eero Kasanen, (1995),"The problem of generalizability: anecdotes and evidence inaccounting research", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 8 Iss: 5 pp. 71 ¿ 90
    10. Merchant. K.A., ¿Paradigms in Accounting Research: A View from North America,¿ Management Accounting Research, Vol.21, No.2, 2010 - Read briefly.
    11. Toulmin, Stephen, 1974, The Uses of Argument, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
    12. Willmott, Hugh, 1993, AND jti:"Organization studies"&start=23&sessionId=2AEA3EF2314B852ECF7E22F3022BE28A&orgFunc=advancedSearch&ftxtOnly=&sdi=Breaking the Paradigm Mentality.Organization Studies,14, 5, 681-720
    13. Yin R. Case Study Research: Design and Methods, 3rd ed. Newbury Park, Sage Publications, 2002


    Session 2: November 12 & 13 and Session 3: December 3 & 4

    Empirical quantitative

    1. Libby, T. and Lindsey, R.M. ¿Beyond budgeting or budgeting reconsidered? A survey of North-American budgeting practice¿, Management Accounting Research, 2010, 21, 1, 56-75.
    2. Merchant Kenneth A.,. Van der Stede Wim Lin A, Thomas W. & Yu Zengbiao (2011): Performance Measurement and Incentive Compensation: An Empirical Analysis and Comparison of Chinese and Western Firms' Practices, European
    3. Accounting Review, 20:4, 639-667Naranjo-Gil, D.; Maas, V. S.; Hartmann F. G. H. (2009); How CFOs determine management accounting innovation: An examination of direct and indirect effects, European Accounting Review, 18, 667-695.
      1. Gerdin, J.; Greve, J.. ¿ AND jti:"Accounting, Organizations and Society"&start=2&sessionId=7F34E1BECB67EEB91FDF36D63AB5C843&orgFunc=advancedSearch&ftxtOnly=&sdi=Forms of contingency fit in management accounting research-a critical review,¿ Accounting, Organizations and Society, 2004 29 3-4 303-326

    Empirical Qualitative

    1. Mouritsen, J.; Larsen, H.T.; Bukh, P.N.D. ¿ AND jti:"Accounting, Organizations and Society"&start=2&sessionId=41CE4AC235F2F5177C27783941954D65&orgFunc=advancedSearch&ftxtOnly=&sdi=Intellectual capital and the 'capable firm': narrating, visualising and numbering for managing knowledge,¿ Accounting, Organizations and Society, 2001, 26, 7-8, 735-762
    2. Busco C., Riccaboni A., Scapens R.W. for accounting and accounting for trustManagement Accounting Research, Volume 17, Issue 1, March 2006, Pages 11-41
    3. Jørgensen, S. and Pedersen, L.J.T. (2010). ¿What¿s the Problem? A Problem-based Approach to the Reform of the Norwegian Drug Rehabilitation Sector¿, European Journal of Social Work, 13, 3, 339-357.
    4. Miller, P. and O´Leary T. (1987) Accounting and the construction of the governable person, AOS, pp. 235-265.

    Rationalistic and conceptual:

    1. Datar, S. & Gupta, M. ¿Aggregation, Specification and Measurement Errors in Product Costing,¿ The Accounting Review, 4, 1994, s. 567-591.
      1. Zimmerman, J. ¿The Cost and Benefits of Cost Allocations.¿ The Accounting Review, July, 1979, s. 504-521.
    2. Armstrong, P., ¿ AND jti:"Accounting, Organizations and Society"&start=0&sessionId=DB3C6E4B32B1A06B28D82A736B30E9AC&orgFunc=advancedSearch&ftxtOnly=&sdi=The costs of activity-based management,¿ Accounting, Organizations and Society, 2002, 27, 1-2, Section 1.1.,2, & 3
    3. Nørreklit, Hanne, 2003, ¿The Balance Scorecard ¿ What Is the Score?,¿ Accounting Organization and Society, 28, 6.


    1. Tinker, T. ¿ AND jti:"Accounting, Organizations and Society"&start=3&sessionId=307363886ABF8AA5B40A293C12B4A776&orgFunc=advancedSearch&ftxtOnly=&sdi=The accountant as partisan,¿ Accounting, Organizations and Society, 1991, 16, 3, 297-310
    1. Solomons, D. ¿ AND jti:"Accounting, Organizations and Society"&start=4&sessionId=307363886ABF8AA5B40A293C12B4A776&orgFunc=advancedSearch&ftxtOnly=&sdi=A rejoinder¿ Accounting, Organizations and Society, 1991, 16, 3, 311-312.
    2. Solomons, D. ¿Accounting & Social Change: A Neutralist View¿, Accounting, Organisations & Society, Vol. 16, No. 5, pp. 287-295, 1991.


    Nørreklit H., Nørreklit L and Mitchell F. ¿Towards a paradigmatic foundations of accounting practice«, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Vol. 23, No. 6, 2010.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

Course responsible

Trond Bjørnenak and Hanne Nørrekilt, Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law