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Bean counters or bright young things?: Towards the visual study of identity construction among professional accountants

  • Samantha Warren
  • Lee Parker
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    Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to put forward a “next step” research agenda for investigating accountants' professional identity. Design/methodology/approach – The visual nature of identity construction is discussed, issues of media stereotyping are revisited and recruitment/educational implications are reviewed. Attention is also paid to the accounting profession's attempts to change perceptions of the accounting identity. Findings – A hybrid strategy of research participant generated photographs and semi-structured interviews is exemplified as a fruitful methodology and outlined as a way forward for tapping into the identity construction processes and perceptions of accountants from their particular perspectives. Research limitations/implications – The paper is intended to stimulate further research into accountants' identities from a visual perspective. However, it does not directly report on empirical findings. Practical implications – Questions of identity construction offer us a window into the degree to which public stereotypes are matched by professional accountants' own personal definitions and the bearing these may have on current and future career intentions. Such insights can provide foundations for a range of profession policy issues spanning recruitment, retention, training and professional development. Originality/value – This paper proposes a visual methodology not employed in accounting research before and addresses the neglected area of accountants' identities as individual professionals.

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    Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management.

    Volume (Year): 6 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 4 (November)
    Pages: 205-223

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    Handle: RePEc:eme:qrampp:v:6:y:2009:i:4:p:205-223
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    1. Nikolay Nenovsky & S. Statev, 2006. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00260898, HAL.
    2. Kelly Tian & Russell W. Belk, 2005. "Extended Self and Possessions in the Workplace," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 297-310, 09.
    3. Chua, Wai Fong, 1995. "Experts, networks and inscriptions in the fabrication of accounting images: A story of the representation of three public hospitals," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 20(2-3), pages 111-145.
    4. Belk, Russell W, 1988. " Possessions and the Extended Self," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 139-68, September.
    5. Robson, Keith, 1994. "Inflation accounting and action at a distance: The sandilands episode," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 45-82, January.
    6. Andrew L. Friedman & Stephen R. Lyne, 1997. "Activity-based techniques and the death of the beancounter," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 6(1), pages 19-44, May.
    7. Michael Humphreys, 2002. "Dress and Identity: A Turkish Case Study," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 39(7), pages 927-952, November.
    8. Bougen, Philip D., 1994. "Joking apart: The serious side to the accountant stereotype," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 319-335, April.
    9. Dimnik, Tony & Felton, Sandra, 2006. "Accountant stereotypes in movies distributed in North America in the twentieth century," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 129-155, February.
    10. Thomas Ahrens & Christopher Chapman, 2000. "Occupational identity of management accountants in Britain and Germany," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(4), pages 477-498.
    11. Preston, Alistair M. & Cooper, David J. & Coombs, Rod W., 1992. "Fabricating budgets: A study of the production of management budgeting in the national health service," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 561-593, August.
    12. Suresh Cuganesan, 2008. "Calculating customer intimacy: accounting numbers in a sales and marketing department," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 21(1), pages 78-103, January.
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