The role of technology as mediating tools in developing professional identity & competency of trainee accountants

Iwi Ugiagbe-Green – Leeds Beckett University

The author has conducted an abductive (Blaikie, 2007; 2010) research study investigating the mediating role of technologies during the initial professional development of trainee accountants. Blaikie (2010) explains; “Data and theoretical data are played against one another in a developmental process. Regularities that are discovered in the course of the research will stimulate the researcher to ask questions and look for answers.” (p.156)

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with trainee accountants (n=8), accounting academics (n=7), professional body representatives (n=5) and workplace assessors (n=5) across five different UK professional accounting bodies. The semi-structured interview questionnaire design is underpinned by constructs and theory informing the interview questions. These include mediation of technology principles based on technology presence (Kiran, 2012), technology acceptance model (Ventakatesh et al 2002), affordances theory (Gibson, 1986) and structuration of technology theory (Orlikowski, 1992).

Data that emerged from the interviews was analysed using thematic analysis. Braun and Clarke (2006) explain that thematic analysis minimally organises qualitative data set in rich detail by adopting a theoretically flexible approach.  They go on to explain that a theme captures something important in relation to the research question and represents some patterned meaning or response in the data set (p.82).

The data analysed provides rich analysis of the affordances placed on technologies by participants in developing the professional identities of trainee accountants during their initial professional development. The various mediating roles played by technologies are transient and dependent on a range of contextual considerations. There is a clear interplay of power between the user and technology. The interactions are emotive and sensory and can be transformative. However, during these interactions technology can act as a disabler or enabler. The extent to which the mediating role enables or disables, is dependent on a range of factors discussed in the paper.