Art and accountability: the languages of design and managerial control

Peter Armstrong (Sheffield University Management School, Sheffield, UK)
Anne Tomes (Sheffield University Management School, Sheffield, UK)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Publication date: 1 December 1996


To hard‐pressed managements in competitive product markets, the aesthetic design of products appears to offer an attractive means of creating competitive advantage. In this situation, researchers on design management are beginning to construct forms of accountability for design so as to guarantee its impact on the market in advance. There are parallels between this initiative and the encroachment of audit controls in the public services. Drawing on theoretical resources developed in the body of research on this ‘audit explosion’, this paper argues that these attempts to subject the design process to audit involve a redefinition of the ‘language’ through which it communicates. Insofar as the result is to subordinate design’s languages of form texture and colour to audit’s languages of words and number, the result is likely to be a self‐defeating reduction of design to rehearsals of the banal, the clichéd and the bland.



Armstrong, P. and Tomes, A. (1996), "Art and accountability: the languages of design and managerial control", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 9 No. 5, pp. 114-125.

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Copyright © 1996, MCB UP Limited

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