Management control via big data analytics as sociomaterial practice: dataworking, truth-making and identity formation in a retail organisation

We explore the ambitions of big data analytics to deliver expansive business intelligence and control in a longitudinal field study that develops the theoretical agenda of management control as a sociomaterial practice, wherein the socio and material are ontologically inseparable. We demonstrate this sociomateriality by highlighting how equipment, inscriptions, activities and identities are co-constituted.  Specifically, ‘raw’ data and ‘a single source of truth’ are not ready-made objects but situated network effects of datawork and truth-making. History, accountabilities (about who is responsible for what and when) and identities (of the organization, datasicence and ‘datascientists’) become entangled with algorithmic models, data structures and systems architecture in analytics projects aimed at controlling the organization better.   Consequently, while big data is big in many ways, it is materialised through myriad decisions and negotiations that leave it also small, as a partial and local achievement. Finally, we explore how management control via big data analytics may be enacted via a highly dispersed analytical capability that is but loosely integrated via an ERP and a ‘federated’ mode of central

Professor Wai-Fong Chua

Professor Wai Fong Chua AM re-joined Sydney University in 2016. Prior to this she held several senior administrative positions in Australian higher education while continuing to pursue an active research career. Professor Chua holds a first class honours degree and a PhD from Sheffield University.

Professor Chua is internationally known for her research on management accounting as a social and organizational practice and the use of qualitative fieldwork as an investigative method. She has received substantial competitive research grants and published widely in prestigious, international accounting journals such as Accounting, Organizations and Society, The Accounting Review and Contemporary Accounting Research. In addition to serving as a reviewer on the boards of numerous well-known accounting journals, Professor Chua is an Editor of Accounting, Organizations and Society. She has also been involved with research training through professional accounting associations such as CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) and the EIASM (European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management). Further, through Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, Professor Chua has published several research monographs on social and environmental reporting. She has also been involved with executive education and consulted with both private and public sector organisations.

In 2012, Professor Chua was recognised for her contributions to research, university administration and mentoring while she was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia. In 2009, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Jyvaskyla, Finland and received the Outstanding Contribution to the Accounting and Finance Literature Award from the Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand. Professor Chua was elected a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia in 2008.

About Academic Seminars

Our academic seminars are a forum for our academic staff to collaborate, share and discuss relevant research and trends with their peers and broader academic community.


Joyce Arckoyd Building (37), room 430