Research themes

The central research topic is how and in what ways (individual and collective) actors effectively construe causal chains that make organizations and social collectives work. Among other things, our research aims to illuminate the following issues: construction of advanced factual possibilities and their integration with values; the construction of the actor in an environment of operating habitus; and the strategy and nature of conceptual topoi in valid communication that integrates the above aspects. The topics are approached theoretically and empirically – qualitatively and quantitatively.

A mechanical and linear form of thinking dominates the management and accounting field. In particular, management accounting is rooted in a form of “realism” that assumes the existence of a real objective world that exists independent of human consciousness. The premise that we can approach causality in organizations as a mere «factual» thing disregard human understanding, innovation and communication as an integrated part of construct causality. A theme of the research group is to theoretically and empirically explore management and accounting methods for the measurement and governance of construct causality.

The quest for a conceptual framework for financial reporting has been on-going for several decades largely to provide a rationale and guidance for those involved in determining the form and content of financial reports. Attempts in this respect have been constructed largely on an ad hoc basis by standard setting bodies and professional institutes. Pragmatic constructivism can be employed to provide a more structured approach in identifying the issues that should be addressed when constructing a conceptual framework. Its application in this respect would provide an interesting and valuable focus for the research group.

“How can we make sure that recorded facts from prior possibilities are also a valid foundation for evaluating new possibilities?”

The world provides us with many possibilities that we need to choose from. When we choose among possibilities we include recorded facts in order to orientate and make a valid decision. Unfortunately recorded facts stem from enactment of prior possibilities and are thereby not directly useful for the evaluation of the present possibilities. This calls for an adjustment of recorded facts in order to make them applicable for the actual possibilities. Unfortunately this adjustment process may lead to turning recorded facts into fiction. A relevant question is hence: how can we make sure that recorded facts from prior possibilities are also a valid foundation for evaluating new possibilities?  The logical problem of creativity or innovation.

Pragmatic constructivism and constructivist structuralism – conceptual thoughts: One of the most important meta-theories to analyze relationships and reciprocity between actors and their environments is the constructivist structuralism perspective provided by Pierre Bourdieu. By applying the concepts of habitus (along with the concept of capital) and field as two structural factors in a social construction process, it becomes possible to bridge the contrast between subjectivism and objectivism. Both structures’ share in social construction processes can be analyzed, leading to the ability to diagnose power structures, hierarchies and legitimacy in organizations and to detect social and organizational struggles and dysfunctions (e.g. in management, governance or workplace integration). This perspective has sometimes misleadingly been perceived as “deterministic”. The pragmatic constructivist theory is to be examined as a possible basis for critical policy-development as well as a meso-level answer to constructivist structuralism.