When it comes to innovations, professionals often look to academia. Although a large number of innovations do stem from the business world, fundamental changes typically originate from universities. This is true, at least, for the natural sciences and technology sectors.
In our field, however, I am convinced that one must view this more critically. My point becomes evident when looking at digitalization. Everywhere you look, digitalization is the main topic among professionals. Yet in controlling, it is virtually non-existent – something that appears to be changing only very slowly. That only very few academics in the field of controlling have investigated digitalization thus far became apparent at this year’s ACMAR conference, which brings the international academic management accounting community from all parts of the world together at WHU.
The keynote held by Paolo Quattrone of the University of Edinburgh made it very clear that academics in our field do indeed provide professionals with invaluable guidance. By presenting a brief history of the development of accounting, Quattrone showed that the use of numbers to enable managers to communicate problems in a balanced way has always been a central function of accounting. However, due to recent technological developments, the scope for personal judgement has become increasingly restricted. Whether the question Quattrone posed at the beginning of his talk – Does digitalization make management control wiser? – can be answered positively is, therefore, by no means certain.
For those who would like to hear more about the conference, check out ACMAR 2017
Author: Professor Utz Schäffer