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MCA-conference June 2017

Researching Management Accounting and Control

'Researching Management Accounting and Control:  Reflections on its impact and implications for the future', 8-9 June 2017, University of Groningen, the Netherlands, in co-operation with the Management Control Association. This conference marked the retirement of Professor Bob Scapens who held an appointment in Groningen for 20 years.

Plenary Speakers

  • Professor John Burns (University of Exeter)
  • Professor Cristiano Busco (University of Roehampton)
  • Professor Wim Van der Stede (London School of Economics)
  • Professor Henri Dekker (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

This conference was organised by the Department of Accounting, in cooperation with the Management Control Association (MCA), and supported by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA; U.K.), the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW; the Netherlands) and the SOM-research school. The number of participants was 64. The conference attracted an international audience that - in addition to Dutch researchers - consisted of people from various European countries, and also from Asia, Australia and North America. Over 55% of the participants came from outside the Netherlands.

A major objective of the conference was to present and discuss recent research in the broad field of management accounting and management control, and in particular to reflect upon the potential impact and implications of this research, also in the practical field and in society. An important reason for this focus included the changing views regarding the formal research assessment exercises and the (societal) value of academic research and the current debates about journal rankings and impact factors. In recent years, the output of academic research and its role in society have in several countries been increasingly criticised. One of the criticisms, also put forward by speakers during the conference, is that the impact of research as measured by, for example, citations in academic journals is not the only way in which its value can be assessed.

Given the focus of the conference, all of those presenting a research paper were asked in advance to pay attention to the impact and implications of their research. For each paper there was a discussant who had carefully read the work prior to the conference, and who also commented on its impact and implications. Furthermore, after each of the presentations there was time for discussion and asking questions. The total number of papers presented during the parallel sessions amounted to 33. The papers were written by PhD students as well as junior and more senior academic researchers from various European and non-European countries.

Apart from the parallel sessions, there were also a number of plenary presentations. The speakers invited at the conference were the Professors John Burns (University of Exeter, U.K.), Cristiano Busco (University of Roehampton, U.K.) and Henri Dekker (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands). In addition, there was a teleconference presentation by Professor Wim Van der Stede (London School of Economics, U.K.). After the four presentations by these recognised researchers, there was time for asking questions and discussion. Here too, the issue of impact and relevance received a lot of attention. Another element of the conference was a round table discussion among the plenary session speakers. Various issues with respect to impact, implications and relevance for practice were once more analysed.

The programme was concluded with a panel session chaired by Paula van Veen. The panel, formed by three of the key speakers (John Burns, Cristiano Busco and Henri Dekker), was given some statements by Paula on which they had to reflect. During these reflections there was also interaction with the audience. This session was an effective way of ending the conference.

The final plenary presentation was held by Professor Robert Scapens, who made some concluding statements on the recent developments in the field of management accounting and management control research and the issue of the impact and implications of research.

MCA-conference 2017
MCA-conference 2017

The comments we received from the participants at the end of the conference and afterwards were truly positive and appreciative. These comments concerned the more organisational aspects of the conference, but in particular its contents, i.e. the various presentations and thorough discussions that took place. We can therefore establish that our goal to organise a well-structured event where the levels of academic content and expertise were fairly high and where there was room for discussion and a critical self assessment of the field, has been sufficiently achieved.

Bob Scapens' presentation
Bob Scapens' presentation
Last modified:18 October 2018 08.56 a.m.