New directions in management accounting research – discussions at the ACMAR 2014

The 11th “Annual Conference for Management Accounting Research” (ACMAR) took place at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management on March 13th and 14th. Once again, around 130 professors and doctoral students accepted the invitation of the Institute of Management Accounting and Control (IMC) and its directors Professor Utz Schäffer und Professor Jürgen Weber. The conference, which for the first time was held entirely in English, again served as a platform for academics from Germany and the rest of the world to exchange ideas. One of the topics that repeatedly came up was the future of management accounting research, which was addressed by Professor Schäffer in his opening speech.

Ranjani Krishnan, professor at Michigan State University, began her keynote speech by taking a critical look at management accounting research in the USA. A central aim of accounting should be to provide information on the underlying economics of an activity. However, according to Professor Krishnan, the data provided is influenced by measurement error and bias. Reasons for this are the use of financial accounting systems for internal decision-making, educational deficiencies of managers, failure to account for mental models, and a false focus on rationality.

In line with ACMAR tradition, the second keynote speaker was a practitioner. Dr. Rainer Schwarz, Head of Corporate Controlling at Bayer AG, addressed the packed room of academics with a presentation on key areas of his job which were discussed at length afterwards. Dr. Schwarz focused on the management of administration costs at Bayer AG and the continuous drive to improve performance in the Controlling function.

Kari Lukka, professor at Turku School of Economics and the conference’s third keynote speaker, kicked off the second day of ACMAR by making a case for restoring the practice relevance of management accounting which has been questioned in recent years. According to Professor Lukka, developments in theory and practice need not be contradictory. “Engaged Scholarships“, an intensive collaboration of researchers and practitioners aimed at generating knowledge together, can produce knowledge that overcomes the dual hurdles of research and practice.

Among the many other contributions, presentations were given by lecturers not only from Germany, but from all over Europe, including the University of Innsbruck, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the University of Amsterdam, and Dublin City University. This confirms that the ACMAR has established itself as a European conference.

Annual Conference for Management Accounting Research (ACMAR) at WHU
The plenary session at ACMAR 2014

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The financial support of the CIMA General Charitable Trust is gratefully acknowledged.