Organizing Care during the COVID-19 Pandemic: The Role of Accounting in German Hospitals

Christian Huber*, Nadine Gerhardt, Jacob Reilley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Purpose: The purpose of this study is to provide insight into the roles of accounting in the management of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in five German hospitals.
Design/methodology/approach: The authors conducted three rounds of interviews, ethnographic observations of meetings and document analyses in five German hospitals between February and August 2020.
Findings: The authors found that actors repeatedly used a central set of indicators (the number of beds for COVID-19 patients) when adapting a healthcare infrastructure to the pandemic. Accounting figures allowed actors to problematize prior configurations, organize processes to make uncertainty plannable and virtualize changes to resume treating non-COVID-19 patients.
Practical implications: The authors offer suggestions about scenario planning and interorganizational learning which have implications for healthcare practitioners.
Originality/value: The authors contribute to the accounting in crisis literature by adding an organization-focused study. Adding nuance to key themes in the literature, they show how the organizations and the field level interact and how organizing locally preceded economizing. They also offer a nonbinary answer to the question of whether or not changes revert back to “normal” after a crisis event.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1445-1456
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 30 March 2021.


  • COVID-19
  • Hospitals
  • Accounting in crises
  • Healthcare
  • Nonfinancial indicators

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