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Managing distances: Ontological work of ‘distancing’ in the consumption of accounting
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Business School, Accounting.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2140-8959
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper sets out to contribute to the earlier propositions that accounting creates a distance and that accounts make it possible to manage at a distance. By moving away from distance as a problem and instead attending to how accounts are mobilized to enact distance, this study seeks to reconsider the relationship between accounting practices and distance. That is, to study the interrelation between accounting representation and action we explore practices of distancing. We report from an ethnography of board work in a theatre company, where we analyse the link between accounts and distance inside and outside of the boardroom. We find that when mobilizing accounting, actors in and around the board imagine the future consumption of accounts. Findings illustrate that distancing involves the enactment of a future self (self- distancing) as well as of the absent ‘others’. Thus, distance is an effect of the way accounts are mobilized and consumed and accounts are mobilized in particular ways to enable the enactment of particular distances. A second finding, that distancing takes place in many places simultaneously, implies that the link between accounting and distance cannot be conceptualized as singular. We suggest that the mediating function that accounting may serve between organization and action may have more to do with the ontological work in the consumption of accounts than with inherent properties of the accounts.

National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119692OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-119692DiVA: diva2:847758
Available from: 2015-08-21 Created: 2015-08-21 Last updated: 2015-08-31
In thesis
1. Representing Performance | Performing Representation: Ontology in accounting practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Representing Performance | Performing Representation: Ontology in accounting practice
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Social studies of accounting have drawn attention to the dubious role of accounting as a representational link between organizational realities and action. Based on five years immersion with performance management and board work in a theatre company, this thesis inquires into the ontological significance of accounting practices. The study takes a praxiographic approach, which emphasizes action and relocates questions of representation towards the practices in which representations are mobilized. The research questions refer specifically to ontological work related to commensurability and distance in accounting practices. Four papers attend to the manners in which the organizational performance of the theatre company is represented in different situations of managing, governing and reporting. The papers demonstrate and analyse different examples of ontological work involved in achieving (or retracting) representational links. In conclusion, the thesis places the organizing of ontological tensions – especially the tension between singular accounting representations and multiple organizational realities – at the core of accounting representation practices. The thesis thus contributes to practical, theoretical and philosophical discussions on the links between accounting practices, accounts and reality. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, 2015. 66 p.
Keyword
Accounting; Ontology; Commensuration; Distance; Performance measurement; Praxiography
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119958 (URN)978-91-7649-248-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-10-16, Gröjersalen, hus 3, Kräftriket, Roslagsvägen 101, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

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

Available from: 2015-09-24 Created: 2015-08-30 Last updated: 2015-09-14Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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