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Sten Jönsson receives the Anthony G. Hopwood Award

News: May 17, 2016

Professor Sten Jönsson, researcher at Gothenburg Research Institute, receives The Anthony G. Hopwood Award for academic leadership – one of the most prestigious awards in accounting. He is the first European to receive the award.
– It’s a confirmation that I have done something of use in the field, says Sten Jönsson.

Photo: Mikael Wickelgren

The prize is awarded by the European Accounting Association (EAA). At a ceremony at the EAA annual convention in Maastricht, 11-13th May, Sten Jönsson was especially commended for his work in helping many doctoral students finding what they themselves are passionate about. Many of his former students have gone on to become successful professors themselves.

Sten Jönsson became professor in accounting and finance in 1976. In 1990 he co-founded the Gothenburg Research Institute where he has been a researcher ever since. Between 1998 and 2003 he was the director of the institute.

What does it mean for you to receive this award?
– It’s an honor of course. It’s a confirmation that I have done something of use in the field.

Anthony G. Hopwood is a legend within the field of accounting. He founded the most important publication, Accounting, Organizations and Society. The last word, “society” is important says Jönsson, for it signifies that Hopwood, and also EAA, have fought to keep the field of accounting close to both society and policymaking.

Many tend to think that accounting is just about balancing the books. But that has not been the case since the 15th century.– In the US, accounting has been disconnected from business administration and become a separate field. In Europe, on the other hand, this connection has been preserved. And I think this is really important. Take for example the problems with tax-avoidance, equal opportunities for companies to compete, workforce that moves across borders and so on – all these issues are connected to society’s regulation of markets and accounting. Many tend to think that accounting is just about balancing the books. But that has not been the case since the 15th century.

There is a lot of inertia that makes change hard – and most of this inertia can be found in our heads.In your own opinion, what is your greatest contribution to the research within accounting?
– It is hard to judge your own work, but the most cited article is one that I wrote in the seventies together with Bo Hedberg. It dealt with what I call semi-confusing information. It is information that gets people - for instance in companies - to talk, ask questions and start discussions that leads to learning and initiates change. The ability to change is crucial for companies and organizations. It is a great waste when companies go out of business and new one starts from zero. But there is a lot of inertia that makes change hard – and most of this inertia can be found in our heads.

FACTS:
Anthony G. Hopwood, an honorary doctor at the School of Business, Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg, made great contributions to bring all the different traditions within accounting in Europe together in European Accounting Association. He also founded the most important scientific publications, Accounting, Organizations and Society, where he was editor for several decades. He had a strong impact on the Said School of Business at Oxford University, where he was dean from 1999 to 2006.
 

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