Making numbers calculable: A case study of the production of governable numbers
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
This paper builds upon a case study of the way organizational activities are represented with numbers in a performance report. A common notion in accounting literature is that accounting numbers enable “government at a distance” (Miller & Rose, 1990, p. 9) by making organizational activities visible, calculable and comparable. The paper shows that if organizational activities are to be represented with numbers that can be calculated and compared, these numbers must be made calculable. For this to happen, the represented activities must be framed in a certain way. Drawing on Goffman’s (1974) frame analysis, this paper suggests that organizational activities have to be keyed, i.e., transformed, into quanta and then re-keyed into generic concepts. Only then can the numbers be open for calculation by others and used as tool for governing. The paper also shows we should not overestimate the capacity of accounting numbers to enable government from a distance.
Accounting numbers, performance measurement, calculability, comparability
Research subject Business Administration
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83433OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-83433DiVA: diva2:575729