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Accounting in the field of governance
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Business.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Corporate governance phenomena have traditionally been, and are still, studied foremost as relationships between principals and agents. Studies of how accounting plays out in corporate governance settings rather share the interest in hierarchical influence than challenge it. The present thesis argues that when studying accounting in corporate governance settings we must, in addition to studying hierarchical influence, take into account the ‘field of governance’ in which accounting is situated. The hierarchical influence with which the corporate governance literature is concerned does not occur in an isolated setting, but in a field with pre-existing, concurrent and entering governance initiatives, technologies and actors. Such aspects of the field of governance necessarily influence how accounting is able to serve corporate governance ends.

Based on two empirical cases, institutional investors and trade unions, active in a field of governance concerned with social and environmental aspects of corporate performance, this thesis consists of four studies investigating the different aspects (who, what and where) of the field of governance and the influence these aspects have on accounting in a corporate governance setting. This thesis, as a result, proposes a new way to study accounting in corporate governance settings and identifies further conditions for accounting’s constitutive ability.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: School of Business, Stockholm University , 2013. , 190 p.
Keyword [en]
accounting, corporate, governance, field, investors, trade unions, accountability, technology
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89126ISBN: 978-91-7447-682-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-89126DiVA: diva2:615856
Public defence
2013-05-20, Gröjersalen, hus 3, Kräftriket, Roslagsvägen 101, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following papers were unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Submitted. Paper 2: Submitted. Paper 3: Manuscript. Paper 4: Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-04-29 Created: 2013-04-12 Last updated: 2013-06-13Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Knowing how to hold to account
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Knowing how to hold to account
(English)In: Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, ISSN 0951-3574, E-ISSN 1368-0668Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

Purpose: to analyse the ability and skill of the one enforcing accountability.

Design/methodology/approach: Knowing how to hold to account is viewed from a perspective of knowing as situated accomplished action. The empirical case consists of Nordic investors who seek to hold companies accountable for their social and environmental performance.

Findings: The study finds that holding to account consists of distributed knowing and delegated activities. To coordinate the activities accountability relationships within the holding to account practice develops. Apart from internal relationships and the relationship to the accountable, knowing how to hold to account consists of demonstrating authority and successful practice in situations with important others, such as organizational colleagues, competitors and media. When face-to-face with the accountable, the appropriation of a customised and generalizable vocabulary helps the actors distance discussions from the expertise of the accountable, and facilitates the reorganization of business contexts so that their experiences are ‘transferable’ across these contexts.

Research implications: A depiction of accountability relationships as involving solely the accountable and the one holding to account is too simplistic. As in the present case, the practice of holding to account may include coordinated, multiple actors, even from separate organizations. Rather than focusing on individuals, the study promotes a focus on situations and the actors found therein as the circumstances of the situations will affect any outcome.

Originality/value: The study focuses on the practice of enforcing accountability, a know how that is often taken for granted, although earlier studies have indicated that such practice is not always successful.

Keyword
Accountability, knowing, investors, social, environmental
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89080 (URN)
Available from: 2013-04-10 Created: 2013-04-10 Last updated: 2013-04-16Bibliographically approved
2. When accounting becomes information: From social and environmental accounts to informed capital market actors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>When accounting becomes information: From social and environmental accounts to informed capital market actors
(English)In: Scandinavian Journal of Management, ISSN 0956-5221Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

The present study analyses how accounts become identified as information. Using the empirical case of investor analysts and social and environmental issues, it finds that models’ categories structure the detection of accounts and form what becomes information. The availability of accounts as input to the models in turn limits how elaborate the models can be. Information- together with investor attributes and interpretative models- affects the outcome of any analysis, but should not be viewed as independent of its users or their models. Thereby when we fail to take information into consideration, when not reflecting on what is viewed or not viewed as information, we miss an important factor in explaining the outcome of an analysis or the popularity of certain models. 

Keyword
Accounting, investors, information, analysis, social, environmental, representation, transparency
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89081 (URN)
Available from: 2013-04-10 Created: 2013-04-10 Last updated: 2013-04-16Bibliographically approved
3. Calculative technologies in their social setting: investor analysts’ composition of corporate social and environmental performance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Calculative technologies in their social setting: investor analysts’ composition of corporate social and environmental performance
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present study analyses how the composition of calculative technologies is affected by the social setting in which the technologies are situated. Previous studies tend to explain technology’s adoption and abandonment by its functionality and its ability to conceive the object under study. Studying the corporate social and environmental performance analysis conducted by institutional investor analysts and their service providers, the present study instead finds that calculative technologies in themselves have a product quality and are located at an intersection of markets. The resulting pressure from different forms of competition affects the composition of the technology. As a result, the technologies are as a result not particularly stable, which prevents the epistemic object, corporate social and environmental performance, from becoming a technological taken-for-granted object. The technology’s functionality is, rather than inherent and stable, attributed to the technology and continuously negotiated.

Keyword
Calculative, technologies, social, environmental, performance, analysis, epistemic, practice
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89083 (URN)
Available from: 2013-04-10 Created: 2013-04-10 Last updated: 2013-04-16Bibliographically approved
4. Strategies of resistance: Reactions in response to a competing mode of governance
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Strategies of resistance: Reactions in response to a competing mode of governance
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Instead of focusing on ‘new’ modes of governance and their technologies, the present work argues that we should as well study what existed before on a market for governance. In this vein, the present study focuses on the pre-existing, challenged, mode of governance and on how the actors react to competition. It studies the reaction of an existing prominent mode of governance when a new form targeting the same subject- companies- and goal- improved social performance- gains territory. In the encounter with CSR and its corporate policies and reporting, the governance technology coupled with the trade unions - Global Framing Agreements- becomes the point of difference and competition. The concept of qualification (Callon, Méadel, & Rabeharisoa, 2002) is here used to conceive of the actions and steps taken by the pre-existing governance actors, the trade unions. The study finds that in a situation of recognised competition from a mode of governance where the technologies are viewed as the main difference, the pre-existing actors react by qualifying their technology and thereby provide the companies with a basis for preference. The qualifying efforts, however, as well change the technology and what the Global Framing Agreement is.

Keyword
social, corporate, governance, technology, trade unions, qualification
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89084 (URN)
Available from: 2013-04-10 Created: 2013-04-10 Last updated: 2013-04-16Bibliographically approved

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