Visual Narratives for Accounting Knowledge Integration
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Accounting is traditionally seen as the language of business and as a tool for managers to support their decision-making. However, recent evidence shows that accounting information is not always used to its full potential in business organizations. To be transformed into valuable knowledge, accounting information needs to be effectively communicated to its users, leading to collective understanding and action. Nowadays, when the amounts of available data and information increases, multimedia and information technologies provide innovative ways to improve the ways how people interact with information. Multimedia communication can be applied as one of the tools to improve the integration of accounting information into individual and collective knowledge. The objective of this thesis is to introduce visual storytelling as one of the ways of representation of accounting knowledge, and to explore whether and how visual narratives can facilitate better understanding and applicability of accounting information. The theoretical framework of the thesis includes theories from the domains of knowledge management, organizational learning, cognitive psychology, visual design and narrative studies, bringing them to the context of management accounting research. Visualization helps individuals to organize information, to understand quickly vast amounts of data and to derive analytical insights bypassing verbal explanation. Stories enable creating shared experience and collective understanding, which in turn leads to coordinated collective action. The outcomes of the this study suggest that visual narratives, such as animation and infographics, can be taken seriously as a knowledge sharing tool, especially in the communication between accounting professionals and less competent users of accounting information. Visual storytelling is an effective learning tool for accounting education; furthermore, presenting accounting information as a visualized story adds value to the communication process in management teams and between organizations. The results can provide innovative directions for further research and for practical implementation of multimedia tools in business analytics.