PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to offer a new and more elaborate view of the relationship between information and knowledge in accountability settings.Design/methodology/approachThe study investigates how knowledge is accomplished when accountability is demanded. The “knowing-in-practice” perspective (Lave, 1988; Orlikowski, 2002; Pentland, 1992) is introduced to theorise knowledge as the ability to purposefully go on with practice and information as a resource that may contribute to this knowledge. Empirically, the study investigates Nordic investors’ engagement with companies addressing environmental, social, and governance issues.FindingsThe findings illustrate how information may contribute to knowledge in an accountability setting. Whether or not the information contributes to knowledge in the accountability setting depends on the information’s origin, convergence with other accounts, and use in contradicting and disproving executives’ information. The analysis also shows how knowledge in accountability settings may be achieved without information – for example, by enacting theories.Research limitations/implicationsThe study suggests that research should more carefully distinguish between knowledge and information. According to the perspective used here, knowledge is the ability to purposefully go on with practice. Information is one of many resources that can contribute to knowledge.Practical implicationsThis study provides insight into the relationship between accounting systems and the practice of demanding accountability. Such understanding is valuable when designing accounts-based governance and civil regulation, such as for addressing sustainability issues, as in this study.Originality/valueThe study challenges the view of knowledge as a representation or factual commodity, and provides a new and more elaborate view of the relationship between information and knowledge in accountability settings by introducing the knowing-in-practice perspective to the accounting literature.
Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 19, 2018
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