Loughborough University
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The suitabilty of conceptual graphs in strategic management accountancy

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posted on 2010-12-03, 14:46 authored by Simon Polovina
The hypothesis of the research is "conceptual graphs are a suitable knowledge-base decision support tool for use by managemenat ccountants in strategic planning", explained as follows. Knowledge-based approaches can help accountants apply their skills in the direction of strategic management problems. Such problem domains cannot be modelled effectively by computer alone, hence we are only interested in those advanced knowledge-based methodologies that can be adequately reviewed by strategic management accountants in the light of their own continually changing tacit and implicit knowledge. Structured diagram techniques, such as flowcharting, are well known by accountants and are a clearly understandable yet important aid in problem review. Apart from being founded on a logically complete reasoning system, the knowledge-based methodology of conceptual graphs was formulated to be an enhancement of these other methods. Furthermore the graphical form of conceptual graphs enjoy an apparent similarity to the 'negating' brackets in the accountant's traditional bookkeeping model. After conducting a comparative study with two similar methodologies in current use showing the technical advantages of conceptual graphs, the Conceptual Analysis and Review Environment computer software was devised and implemented. CARE was used to test the - accepted graphical form of conceptual graphs through a series of user evaluation sessions. The evaluations started out with subjects from the conceptual graphs community itself, then key business school staff, and culminated in a session with senior practising accountants. In addition, CARE was enhanced iteratively in accordance with the results of each evaluation session. Despite their strong prima facie attractiveness and positive response from the conceptual graphs community session, as the user evaluations progressed it became increasingly evident that the inherent complexity of conceptual graphs fundamentally undern-tined them as a viable tool, other than for very trivial problems well below the level needed to be viable for strategic management accountancy. Therefore the original contribution of this research is that its hypothesis turns out to be false.



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© Simon Polovina

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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