Cost-consciousness in social work
In our recent article published in Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management we focus on middle managers’ response, when the need for improved cost-consciousness is introduced to a Danish municipality’s social service department. We apply sensemaking as a theoretical lens to explore how managers, as change agents, use accounting information.
The article is published together with Anne Kirstine Svanholt and Karina Skovvang Christensen, and is based on a research project studying management control systems in several Danish Municipalities. The paper can be downloaded from ResearchGate.
About the article
The paper explores how the introduction of new accounting information influences understandings of cost-consciousness. Furthermore, the paper explores how managers use accounting information to shape organizational members’ understanding of changes, and how focusing on cost-consciousness influence professional culture within social services.
Based on a case study, we use sensemaking as a theoretical lens. Top management, middle management, and staff specialists at a medium-sized Danish municipality are interviewed. It is demonstrated how accounting metaphors can be effective in linking cost information and cost-consciousness to operational decisions in daily work practices. Further, the study elucidates how professionalism may be strengthened based on the use of accounting information.
The paper contributes to the literature on how accounting information influence social work. To date, only few papers have focused on how cost-consciousness can be understood in practice and how it influences professional culture. Further, the study expands the limited accounting metaphor research.
When collecting the data, Anne Kirstine Svanholt was an industrial Ph.D. student. The project was funded by Innovation Fund Denmark, KMD, COK, Randers Kommune and the Association of Municipality CFOs. We wish to thank the participants from the municipality for participating in this research project. Further, we are grateful for the help from two anonymous reviewers and from the editor of the journal.
Read more papers from the research project
Bukh, Per Nikolaj & Anne Kirstine Svanholt. 2020. Empowering middle managers in social services using management cotrol systems. Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting & Financial Management 32(2):267-289.
Bukh, Per Nikolaj, Karina Skovvang Christensen & Anne Kirstine Svanholt. 2020. Omkostningsbevidsthed i social arbejde: Fra spændingsfelt til professionalisme. Tidsskrift for Professionsstudier, nr. 31/september, pp. 94-105.
Bukh, Per Nikolaj & Anne Kirstine Svaholt. 2019. Styring i spændingsfeltet mellem vilde problemer og stramme budgetter. Samfundslederskab i Skandinavien, vol. 34, no. 3, pp. 229-266.