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Professor Bhimani delivered a research seminar at Westminster Business School in London on 5 February 2019. He spoke on Artificial Intelligence and digitalisation: The implications for accounting research. He commented on how data growth has come from largely unstructured data spilling over from internet based devices and digital technologies and how ill-prepared accountants are in addressing this information disruption. He stated that this is proving a challenge not only in terms of upending the work of accountants but requiring also novel approaches to academic research. The ‘4rth industrial revolution’ has unleashed data that emanates from physical, economic and biological interfaces requiring examination that goes beyond financial, non-financial and quantitative metrics which dominate the output of accounting controls. Consequently researchers need to widen both their methodological approaches and the conceptual paradigms on which they rest. Professor Bhimani spoke about emerging research which is predicated on analogue perspectives of the research endeavour which are now limiting and narrow and fail to capture platform and network-based enterprise processes and changes tied to digital economy activities. He believes that artificial intelligence and machine learning call for a rethink of the dichotomy between deductive research and inductive theorising. Qualitative perspectives which rest upon post-modernistic scholarship need to be extended to encompass novel ways in which for instance “selves” are seen to be created and controlled and modes of organisational change takes place and economic spaces emerge. Likewise surveys and hypothesis test based research is often not fit for purpose in digitised contexts where propositions rely on old economy rationalisations. Rooting methods formulated for the analogue worlds in today’s platform environments will fail to produce research insights which the digital complexities presents us with. Scholarship in search of new accounting knowledge today cannot retain yesterday’s methodological precepts.
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