Most of my current research projects relate to performance measurement, the (mis)use of numbers and statistics and/or business ethics. Below, you can find a brief description of my most recent projects that are now working papers. Feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more about these research projects.
Family firms and the deinstitutionalization of stewardship
(with Leon Stam)
Using a case study, we study the role of performance measures and other management accounting instruments in a family firm, after a private equity fund acquired a majority stake. We find that some accounting instruments facilitate the deinstitutionalization of stewardship characteristics such as interpersonal trust and a low power distance.
Auditor expertise and ethical decision making
(with Nieves Carrera)
Using a survey method, we examine how auditor expertise relates to ethical decisions of auditors. We find that auditors with higher levels of expertise are less tolerant towards ethically disputable situations. This effect is stronger when the situations are related to accounting and auditing.
Quarantine, control changes and employee responses: A field study of Professional Service Firms
(with Gianluca Delfino)
In this project, we conducted a field study of management control practices in professional service firms (PFSs) in Italy, the first country in Europe that was severely impacted by COVID-19. Interviews with consultants are our primary data source, and we find that PFSs changed their management control practices quickly in order to deal with the quarantine situation that forced them to switch fully to remote working. PFSs made more use of monitoring practices, fuelled by online surveillance techniques and cooperation software. Among the employee responses that we observed are increased stress, show-off behavior, changes to their perceived autonomy and a weakened sense of relatedness with others in the organization.
Expert systems, numbers, and trust in a local COVID-19 response
(with Dominic Detzen, Lukas Loehlein and Till Remmers)
Informed by insights from the sociology of quantification and Giddens’ notion of expert systems, this paper explores how the COVID-19 crisis was presented and represented during the “first wave” of the pandemic. The Robert Koch Institute’s continued attempts to render visible the elusive virus and “quantify the crisis” through numbers, calculative practices and statistics undermined rather than strengthened trust in the institute as an expert system. As the crisis offered access points to expert systems and opened the black box of the production of infection numbers, both the media and counter-quantifications began to shape the narrative of the pandemic, leading to an erosion of trust in the expert system.