Accounting, accountability, social media and big data: Revolution or hype?

Michela Arnaboldi, Cristiano Busco, Suresh Cuganesan

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Purpose – This paper outlines an agenda for researching the relationship between technology enabled networks – such as social media and big data - and the accounting function. In doing so, it links the contents of an unfolding area research with the papers published in this Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal special issue.Design/methodology – The paper surveys the existing literature, which is still in its infancy, and proposes ways in which to frame early and future research. The intention is not to offer a comprehensive review, but to stimulate and conversation.Findings – We review several existing studies exploring technology enabled networks and highlight some of the key aspects featuring social media and big data, before offering a classification of existing research efforts, as well as opportunities for future research. Three areas of investigation are identified: new performance indicators based on social media and big data;governance of social media and big data information resources; and, finally, social media and big data’s alteration of information and decision-making processes.Originality/value – We are currently experiencing a technological revolution that will fundamentally change the way in which organisations, as well as individuals, operate. It is claimed that many knowledge-based jobs are being automated, as well as others transformed with, for example, data scientists ready to replace even the most qualified accountants. But, of course, similar claims have been made before and therefore, as academics, we are called upon to explore the impact of these technology enabled networks further. This paper contributes by starting a debate and speculating on the possible research agendas ahead. 

© 2017, Emerald Group Publishing . The attached document (embargoed until 15/05/2019) is an author produced version of a paper published in Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAccounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2017

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