Researcher of the month - June 2012
I´m a German citizen and came to Sweden in 1995 as an exchange student. Due to the inspiring state-of-the-art study system in Sweden I returned after a short intermezzo in Kiel, Germany, to finish my studies at the School of Business, Economics and Law at Gothenburg University. At the end of my Bachelor studies I was asked to enrol as a PhD student. I took this opportunity and finished my PhD 2003. Thereafter, I gained experience in teaching and academic leadership. I was Head of the Financial Accounting & Reporting Group at Gothenburg School of Business, Economics and Law for about 7 years. Among my large international network, I am very much tied to the European Accounting Association. I have been Secretary General for organizing the EAA annual congress in Gothenburg since 2005 and have been active for the EAA in different positions. Since, May 2012 I am Chair of the Conference Committee of the EAA.
After being faculty opponent at a licentiate seminar to one of JIBS PhD students I was invited last year to become a PhD supervisor at JIBS joining the Accounting & Law department part-time. When I was offered a full professor position in financial accounting at another Swedish university, JIBS took the opportunity to recruit me directly. From 1 March 2012 I joined JIBS as Professor of Accounting. I chose JIBS among other offered positions from Swedish universities as JIBS offered me the prospect to bring in my experience of academic leadership and time to pursue my international research portfolio.
I would deliberately label myself as a qualitative financial accounting researcher. My research interests are all within financial accounting and can be divided into three main areas, each with varying degrees of overlap: Human resource accounting, International accounting and Accounting communication.
In the beginning of my career my research focused primarily on all aspects of human resource accounting. In numerous annual reports, employees are described as being the most important resource for their company. My thesis contains an empirical study of Human Resource Disclosures in the annual reports of two international insurance companies over a five-year period. Parts of the thesis have been presented as articles at a number of international conferences and been published in scientific journals.
Professor Chitoshi invited me as a visiting professor and researcher to Kobe University in Japan. During these stays, I started to conduct research within international accounting. In Japan, Professor Chitoshi Koga and I conducted a survey on the attitude of Japanese accounting managers towards IFRS and the impact of globalization of the Japanese accounting. Our study was published in one of the oldest scientific accounting journals in Japan. In revised form this study became a book chapter in Globalisation of Accounting Standards. I have built up a personal network and contacts to a number of UK professors in financial accounting. Mike Jones invited me to contribute with a book chapter on Swedish accounting scandals. Financial Accounting, Fraud and International Accounting Scandals was published by Wiley & Sons in December 2010 and received much attention in both media and academia.
My third research area, accounting communication, has emerged due to a number of advisory projects that I was consulted for by companies that use accounting in different contexts to build trust. Apart from a few articles in a special edition of the European Accounting Review, very little research is done that highlights the company's communication process with stakeholders and the production of annual reports. Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation and Tore Browaldh Foundation granted SEK 2 million to the program “Accounting Communications - trust by numbers, text and images" of which I was project manager. This program has led to a number of publications of articles, conference papers and books.
This stream of research is now focusing on integrated reporting, which combines all three research areas.
JIBS offers a smorgasbord of interesting avenues. To me, the “I" in JIBS is what I find especially attractive. Not so much as I am German, because after 17 years in Sweden I feel as Swedish as I am German, but it is the stimulating international environment that drives JIBS. Personally, it is a great prospect that JIBS provides the possibility to become an active link to the vibrant entrepreneurial business community in this region and its international spirit of pursing global trade. Here´s a golden opportunity to make a contribution, not only to the international research community but to collaborate closely with companies that can benefit from the research results. I enjoy the international environment at JIBS that is embraced by our students, faculty and members of staff to live up to being “international at heart and entrepreneurial in mind".