For two days, Vallendar became the meeting point for the international management accounting community. For the 15th Annual Conference for Management Accounting Research (ACMAR) at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management 130 professors, researchers, and doctoral students from around the globe travelled to Campus Vallendar.
Professor Utz Schäffer and Professor Jürgen Weber, directors of the Institute of Management Accounting and Control (IMC), had organized a diverse program on management accounting. Future research questions were seen in the 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 well underway. Looking at the results of the IMC’s latest 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: In his keynote, Carsten Knobel, CFO and Board Member at Henkel AG, focused 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.
The ACMAR 2018 gave the audience a lot of food for thought. First results to the prompted questions may be expected at the next ACMAR which will take place in Vallendar on March 7 and 8, 2019.