Exploring the Interrelationship between the Accounting Craft and «Big Data»
On Friday 2 December 2022 Andreas Ulfsten will hold a trial lecture on a prescribed topic and defend his thesis for the PhD degree at NHH.
Prescribed topic for the trial lecture:
Interrelationships between digitalization and accounting: Challenges, dilemmas and open questions
Aud N at NHH, 10:15
Title of the thesis:
Disclosing from Disorder: Exploring the Interrelationship between the Accounting Craft and «Big Data»
Organizations increasingly aspire to use big data as a foundation for management and control. In his thesis, Andreas Ulfsten aims to broaden our understanding about what this aspiration means in practice through studying how accounting information is constructed on the basis of big, varied and unstructured data.
The dissertation’s three articles collectively show that big data changes accounting practice, but that accounting practice is necessary to make big data manageable. In some cases, this mutually constitutive relationship leads to paradoxical outcomes.
The first article contrasts the concepts of ‘accounting’ and ‘big data’ to understand the relationship between them. Findings from an empirical study indicate a broad conception amongst the actors in the studied site about big data providing opportunities for objective and innovative management control practice. Consequently, many new digital accounting visualizations are produced. However, construction of such visualizations demands subjective selection of data, leading to a conclusion about big data and accounting being mutually constitutive concepts and practices.
In the second article, Ulfsten investigates how management control is practiced through systems of interlinked accounting inscriptions and other data types. The motivation for the study is that extant research tends to focus on individual inscriptions, and not how these are linked and what linking means for control practice. The study finds that links between inscriptions must be visible for the total system to function, but that links might become concealed if actors do not possess required specialized knowledge.
In the third article, Ulfsten and co-authors study outcomes of increased reliance on big data as a result of digitalization. The contribution is that digitalization of knowledge work can lead to paradoxical outcomes: increased use of data to become more efficient simultaneously makes the organization less efficient. The explanation offered is that increased use of data constructs tensions between different actor groups.
Aud N at NHH, 12:15
Members of the evaluation committee:
Professor II Anatoli Bourmistrov (leader of the committee), Department of Accounting, Auditing, and Law, NHH
Professor Jan Mouritsen, Copenhagen Business School
Professor Silvia Jordan, University of Innsbruck
Professor Katarina Kaarbøe (main supervisor), Department of Accounting, Auditing, and Law, NHH
Professor Bino Catasús, Universitety of Stockholm (Stockholm University Business School) and Adjunct Professor at NHH
The trial lecture and thesis defense will be open to the public.