Ulf Brüggemann, Assistant Professor of Accounting at HU Berlin, is the principal investigator of Project A01 “Determinants of Mandatory Disclosure” in which he explores how mandatory financial disclosure varies across countries and over time. He is also one of the organizers of the Berlin Accounting Workshop.
Accounting: Mastering complexity
Research has always fascinated me, perhaps because I like to track down systematic patterns in what at first seems to be impenetrable chaos. In my view, this is also what accounting is about. Companies engage in many and many different transactions generating a mess of complex information. This complexity has to be organized and made understandable through clear structures – a task that can be daunting but eventually also enriching (at least to me).
Exploring “Determinants of Mandatory Disclosure”
Curiosity is an important driver for my research. If it ever ran dry, I might have to look for another occupation. Fortunately, there is no lack of intriguing questions that I would like to tackle. Currently, my research focuses on the “Determinants of Mandatory Disclosure”, which I explore in subproject A01. If you compare the disclosure requirements of companies, you see considerable differences across countries, certain types of companies, and over time. We want to understand the nature of these differences. Why do they exist in the first place? What (or who) exactly causes them? Ultimately, we hope to derive specific recommendations for regulatory authorities from our findings.
If you compare the disclosure requirements of companies, you see considerable differences across countries, certain types of companies, and over time. We want to understand the nature of these differences.
TRR 266: It’s all about the network
In A01, we are building a comprehensive dataset on current and past regulation that includes details on the various disclosure regimes across and within countries. I am very glad to be supported by an international team from Germany, Venezuela, Myanmar and Canada to address this challenge. The team’s diverse background and language skills are particularly helpful in this regard. After all, understanding local data requires local expertise. Moreover, we benefit from the other TRR 266 members who provide us with valuable contacts from their international networks.
TRR 266: Let’s talk about Open Science
This networking idea is a distinctive feature of the TRR 266. We maintain a broad professional and cross-locational exchange – both within the individual projects and across the entire research program. As soon as we have prepared a first version of our A01 dataset, we will present it to the other members of the TRR 266 to get their feedback. This increases the quality of our research immensely. In turn, the other TRR 266 members can use the data for their projects.
Open Science is important to us as an essential instrument for quality assurance.
We also want to make the research of the TRR 266 freely accessible to the public. Open Science is important to us as an essential instrument for quality assurance. You know how important this approach is if you have ever tried to replicate a scientific study. These studies typically involve many interrelated and often subtle research design choices. If details on these choices are not documented, replication becomes an almost intractable task. Our approach is to disclose the design choices of our research to everyone. In doing so, we aim to establish a best practice and encourage other researchers to follow suit.
Berlin Accounting Workshop: Dissecting research
We organize various networking events to promote interaction with both researchers and practitioners from around the world. One of these events is the Berlin Accounting Workshop, which we – HU Berlin, ESMT Berlin, ESCP Europe, FU Berlin, TU Berlin, and the University of Potsdam – launched in 2016. Since 2019, the Workshop runs under the TRR 266 flag and has a clear focus on corporate transparency. The workshop format fosters lively discussions and, thus, proves an excellent fit to the spirit of the TRR 266. Curiously enough, part of the workshop took place in a former veterinary anatomy theatre at HU Berlin. From dissecting animals to scrutinizing accounting research – this place has seen it all!
I see it as our obligation to provide insights to the real world that help understand and perhaps improve the complex processes our society relies on.
Impact: Reaching beyond the ivory tower
It is important to me to conduct research that does not remain in the ivory tower. I see it as our obligation to provide insights to the real world that help understand and perhaps improve the complex processes our society relies on. Of course, this also means that we must be able to explain our research, especially to people who have no prior knowledge. The TRR 266 is crucial for us to meet this social responsibility. Its focus on transparency, its formats for communicating with the public, and its vibrant atmosphere provide the ideal environment to reach a wider audience. We expect first results from A01 before the end of this year. Stay tuned!