Dr Lotta Bjorklund
Dr Lotta Björklund Larsen joined University of Exeter Business School in 2019 after 7 years at Linköping University, Sweden. At Linköping she was partner in the Horizon2020 project “FairTax”, leading a work package researching cooperative compliance and collaborative relations between large corporations and tax authorities. Previously, she conducted three years of participant observation at the Swedish Tax Agency, following a risk assessment project. Prior to moving to academia, she worked as a manager in the financial software industry for 13 years. She is currently co-investigator in the ESRC funded research project Fiscal Citizenship.
Lotta’s research on taxation is broadly based in economic, legal, and moral anthropology. Through her ethnographic research, she has examined the knowledge that shapes tax compliance; the making of a tax gap; the informal economy and the digitization of society.
She has published several monographs as well as articles in, among others, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Journal of Cultural Economy, Big Data & Society and has recently co-authored an entry on “Taxation” in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology
Lotta’s research covers different issues in the tax arena. The starting point is that taxation, like most other economic exchanges, creates relations. “Why we pay tax, why we avoid doing so and how we are made to pay tax” are overarching questions that bring to the fore people’s relationship to state, market and fellow citizens.
Lotta’s dissertation is based on ethnographic interviews addressing how purchases of informal work in Sweden can be justified. She then conducted unrelated and up-close fieldwork at the Swedish Tax Agency for three years, resulting in a vivid ethnographic account of a modern bureaucracy. The monograph Shaping Taxpayers. Values in action at the Swedish Tax Agency (2017 Berghahn books) reveals how diverse knowledge claims compete, in order to shape the taxpayer: legal, economic, cultural. In so doing, the book seeks to understand the values Swedes hold on economic matters and how Swedes themselves, in turn, shape the Agency. Thus there are lessons to be learned for increasing tax compliance, as Swedes pay amongst the highest income taxes in the world, yet this Agency currently earns the high esteem of the nation’s governmental agencies. A discussion about the book is available as a podcast in New Books Network: https://newbooksnetwork.com/lotta-bjorklund-larsenshaping-taxpayers-values-in-action-at-the-swedish-tax-agency-berghahn-books-2017/.
In addition to this, Lotta recently led the largest work package within the Horizon2020 funded project FairTax, where the contributors made a qualitative comparison of cooperative compliance projects between large corporations and tax administrations in the Nordic countries. She has also conducted fieldwork into a failed tax lottery in the republic of Georgia.
Lotta takes a keen interest in methodologies and has, through her research, become convinced of the need for a multi-disciplinary approach to the tax field. The methodological assumptions for addressing taxation issues in different scientific disciplines, and how each shapes compliance, is thus of particular interest to her.
In the project Fiscal Citizenship in Migrant Societies, Lotta coordinates the qualitive data collection.
At Linköping University, she supervises Nimmo Osman Elmi, who will defend her dissertation, Digitalizing Tax, the Kenyan Way, September 24