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Financial accounting and management work


Special issue call for papers from Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

Guest Editors

Darlene Himick, [email protected] (University of Ottawa, Canada)
Gustav Johed, [email protected] (Stockholm school of economics, Sweden).
Christoph Pelger, [email protected] (University of Innsbruck, Austria).

Background

Accounting scholarship which mobilizes qualitative research methods has a strong tradition in the fields of management accounting, but is much less prevalent in research which takes financial accounting as its focus. While the standard setting practices related to financial accounting has been a fruitful site for field study work, we note a paucity of research that examines financial accounting in its relation to management work. This special issue aims to build research that focuses on financial accounting and the many inter-relations it maintains with management work, whether that involves the production of information in the firm, the interaction with management and auditors, or the interaction with management and users of its reported results, among many other potential sites of interest. Possible themes that could be addressed in submissions to the special issue include, but are not limited to:

The production of financial accounting

The financial accounts are produced by the interaction of many different groups – the management team and the auditor, the head office and the subdivisions, the R&D department and other departments. These interactions influence the way operations are presented in financial reports but the interactions are also influenced by the way it should eventually be accounted for and by the anticipation of reactions by auditors and enforcers. While some research has examined the way in which annual reports present the “image” of the entity (Preston, Wright, and Young 1996), including gendered representations of the firm (Benschop and Meihuizen 2002) we are interested in papers that examine the work done by management and staff in all areas of the organization to compile, design, and assess financial reports and their compliance with standards. For inspiration see Chahed and Goh, 2016; Johansen and Plenborg, 2018; McCracken, Salterio, and Gibbins 2008.
As part of the production of financial accounting, management comes to understand how different areas of its operations are made visible (to internal and external users). To change what is made visible, management may seek to alter the very items being revealed.  We need to understand how management understands, manages, changes, or controls areas of its operations that are subject to financial reporting. For instance, we want to understand how management comes to understand the risks of having certain items “on the books” and approaches it takes to keep items “off the books”. Related to, but much broader than simply off-balance sheet financing, we are interested in, for instance, the deliberate decisions to offload risks out of the organization (frequently into less visible and more vulnerable sites, e.g., Amoore, 2004) in order that they not appear in reported results. 

The interaction of financial reporting with other regulations

The production of financial accounting is not independent from concerns that relate to other fields of regulation, such as taxation or industry-specific regulations, or such as bank or insurance regulations. We know very little about the processes put into complying with different types of regulations. For instance, how do management decisions on corporate tax strategies interact with, become stalled by, or eased by, financial reporting practices? How does the work done during book-to-tax reconciliations help to reveal the options open to management on strategies? How do reporting requirements by bank regulators interfere with presenting useful information to investors? For inspiration see Hartmann, Marton and Söderström, 2018.

Regulation, corporate governance and managerial work

Accounting regulations are subject to constant changes. At the international level, recent years have seen the introduction of new accounting standards on financial instruments, lease accounting, revenue recognition and accounting for insurance contracts. However, little is known about whether and how the introduction of new (or revised) accounting standards affects management (accounting) practices (e.g., Wagenhofer 2016). For example, do the new standards influence internal processes and managerial decision-making?
The board of directors and the work of the audit committees are mechanisms that seek to control managers’ work and the way the managers report on their work via the financial reports. As of today there are few studies that have empirically addressed financial accounting and corporate governance jointly (but see (Gendron, Bédard, and Gosselin 2004; Tremblay and Gendron 2011). For instance, how do managers consider the corporate governance setting when making (accounting) decisions? Conversely, how do the financial reports help the board and the audit committee to make sense of managerial work? Also there are very few studies that have addressed this issue in the public sector.

The use of financial accounting by the users and producers of financial accounting.

Accountants who produce the financial reports for an organization frequently prepare internal reporting for a variety of internal users, including the Board, but also management who function across business units, geographies, and divisions. As reporting to meet these varying demands becomes “institutionalized” inside the firm, how does it impact what these same accountants produce in the externally used financial reports? How does work that is initially performed only for internal users eventually become replicated in external reports?
There are a handful of qualitative field studies about the investor-management relation and we believe there is room for more studies about the way managers and investors, lenders and analysts meet and discuss the financial accounts of public companies. In addition, beyond the immediate network of capital providers is the media (business and popular press, and more recently, social media) which is an important dissemination point for the reported results, but one which we know very little about. Similarly, research has overlooked the way that Investor Relations departments in firms do the work of communicating to external actors. To what extent do managers draw on financial accounting information in their communication? How does management present and frame financial accounting information in different settings (e.g. annual shareholder meetings, analyst calls, interviews in the press, etc.)? How do investors or analysts mobilize financial accounting information in their interactions with management? For inspiration see (Roberts et al. 2006; Abraham and Bamber 2017).
While we have no wish to prescribe research methods and theories, given the journal outlet we are seeking those which take a qualitative research approach.

Deadlines

  • Deadline for submission of papers to QRAM: 31 March 2020
  • Publication of Special Issue: 2021
  • Manuscripts should be prepared and submitted in accordance with QRAM author guidelines and is subject to QRAM’s regular double-blind review process. All submissions must be made via QRAM’s online system
  • Please specify that your submission is to the special issue on ‘‘Financial accounting & management
  • Enquiries and expressions of interest to any of the guest editors are welcomed.

References

Abraham, S., and M. Bamber. 2017. The Q&A: Under surveillance.  Accounting, Organizations and Society 58:15-31.
Amoore, L. 2004. Risk, reward and discipline at work.  Economy and Society 33 (2):174-196.
Benschop, Y., and H.E. Meihuizen. 2002. Keeping up gendered appearances: representations of gender in financial annual reports.  Accounting, Organizations and Society 27 (7):611-636.
Gendron, Y., J. Bédard, and M. Gosselin. 2004. Getting inside the black box: A field study of practices in “effective” audit committees.  Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory 23 (1):153-171.
Hartmann, B., J. Marton, and R. Söderström. 2018. The Improbability of Fraud in Accounting for Derivatives: A Case Study on the Boundaries of Financial Reporting Compliance.  European Accounting Review:1-29.
Johansen, T.R., and T. Plenborg. 2018. Company responses to demands for annual report changes.  Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal 31 (6):1593-1617.
McCracken, S., S.E. Salterio, and M. Gibbins. 2008. Auditor–client management relationships and roles in negotiating financial reporting.  Accounting, Organizations and Society 33 (4):362-383.
Preston, A.M., C. Wright, and J.J. Young. 1996. Imag [in] ing annual reports.  Accounting, Organizations and Society 21 (1):113-137.
Roberts, J., P. Sanderson, R. Barker, and J. Hendry. 2006. In the mirror of the market: The disciplinary effects of company/fund manager meetings.  Accounting, organizations and society 31 (3):277-294.
Tremblay, M.-S., and Y. Gendron. 2011. Governance prescriptions under trial: On the interplay between the logics of resistance and compliance in audit commttees.  Critical Perspectives on Accounting 22:259-272.
Wagenhofer, A. 2016. Exploiting regulatory changes for research in management accounting.  Management Accounting Research 31:112-117.