Systematic Reviews Help in Understanding Business Studies

Keeping track of main sources and sub-sources is becoming increasingly difficult when conducting research in business administration.

Professor Martin Hiebl
Professor Martin Hiebl

Published research findings in many scientific disciplines, including business administration, are growing rapidly, often at an exponential rate. Individual researchers face a growing challenge to maintain an overview of sub-topics and threads when organizing their business administration sources. Systematic reviews can help researchers create a system to avoid losing an overview despite the rapid accumulation of research findings. The method is a systematic, transparent way to holistically help to identify and analyze existing sources on a certain topic or context and use this information to draw reference to other related or interesting avenues to conduct further research.

Prof. Martin Hiebl, a visiting professor at the JKU Institute of Controlling and Consulting and Chair of Business Administration (management accounting and control) at the University of Siegen (Germany), has been working with these kinds of Systematic Reviews for quite some time. As there has been relatively little information on how to conduct these kinds of Systematic Reviews in business administration, he took a closer, more detailed look at a review sub-process, namely the selection of literature sources to be analyzed. The results have been recently published in a leading journal for research methods in business administration, namely Organizational Research Methods. Hiebl’s paper provides suggestions on ways that systematic reviews in business administration can better comply with a structured, complete and transparent literature selection in the future. The fact that this article has become one of the journal’s three most downloaded articles over the past six months shows there is a strong interesting for this type of information in various areas of business administration. At the same time, this is the first article citing JKU affiliation that has ever been published in Organizational Research Methods.

In addition, Hiebl has also recently published an application about systematic reviews in a renowned accounting and controlling research journal, the European Accounting Review. Together with a former colleague, Dr. Sinclear Ndemewah, Hiebl’s article titled "Management Accounting Research on Africa" provides a systematic review of existing research sources about accounting practices, namely controlling, in Africa. Based on the review, the authors also develop an outline to provide a better understanding of management accounting practices in Africa, pointing out a number of worthwhile directions for future research on the topic. This article is the first by a JKU-affiliated scholar in the European Accounting Review in almost 20 years, the last being a contribution by Axel Haller in 2002.