For two days, Vallendar became the meeting point for the international management accounting community. The 15th Annual Conference for Management Accounting Research (ACMAR) at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management attracted 130 professors, researchers, and doctoral students from around the globe to our campus. Prof. Utz Schäffer and Prof. Jürgen Weber, directors of the Institute of Management Accounting and Control (IMC), welcomed highly experienced and young researchers alike.
Once again, ACMAR was an exceptionally inspiring conference, pointing out various fields of research that need to be explored further. Future research questions were seen in the very diverse areas of digitalization, operations planning, and passionate interests.
Utz Schäffer revealed that most controlling functions are not adequately prepared for the digital disruption that is already underway. Looking at the results of the IMC’s Digitalization Pulse Check, he pointed out that controllers are digital latecomers. A clear need for the digital controller of the future, however, was also seen by the practitioner at the conference: Carsten Knobel, CFO and Board Member at Henkel AG. Knobel focused his keynote on the future of Shared Service Centers and how to use artificial intelligence as the answer to quality improvement needs. “In the future, artificial intelligence will enable us to handle high data volumes with prescriptive measures, enrich our human knowledge with computer generated actionable insights, and leverage machine learning for complex exception handling”, Knobel said.
Karen Sedatole (Emory University’s Goizueta Business School) and Wai Fong Chua (University of Sydney Business School) focused on a very different field that, nevertheless, raised just as many future research questions: the field of human biases and human interaction. Looking at intentional and unintentional biases in forecasting, Sedatole has found that management accounting researchers approach the problem in a very mechanistic way: “They are looking for optimal solutions but tend to ignore the role of the individual making decisions within an organizational context”, Sedatole said. Chua, on the other hand, delineated how passionate interests interrelate with accounting: “The concept of passionate interests opens up new avenues of research: What does shared or collective fear do to people and firms, for example?”, she asked the audience.
A lot of food for thought – and clearly a reason to come back to discuss again: The next ACMAR will take place in Vallendar on March 7-8, 2019.