Author-itative interpretation in understanding accounting practice through case research

Ivo De Loo*, Alan Lowe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The way interviews are used in accounting research, and the way this research is written up, suggests that there is only one way to interpret these interviews. This invests the author(s) with great perceptive power and storytelling ability. What if different assumptions are used about how to interpret research, and how to present the ensuing findings? We give an illustration of what this might imply, using the notion of 'reflexivity'. The setting for our illustration concerns a series of interviews with management accountants on the dilemmas they face in their daily work. We apply Alvesson's ideas on how to use metaphors to open up the interpretation of interview accounts. The aim of the paper is to shed a different light on the way interviews can be used and interpreted in accounting research. We assert that allowing for reflexive accounts is likely to require substantially differently written research papers, in which the process of discovery is emphasized. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-16
Number of pages14
JournalManagement Accounting Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


  • case research
  • interpretation
  • interviews
  • metaphors
  • reflexivity


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