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Hybrid accounts: Shell’s letter to Mr and Mrs shareholder

Sanja Pupovac (School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Faculty of Business, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)
Lee Moerman (School of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Faculty of Business, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Article publication date: 19 June 2017

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to use a hybrid account of oil spills in Nigeria to explore the recursive relationship between a multinational company, specific shareholders and the public. A response to Mr and Mrs Shareholders’ concerns is considered an exercise in corporate discursive hegemony and enacts rhetorical accountability.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors adopt Debord’s (1967, 1988) concept of the spectacle with Boje’s (2001) antenarrative approach as a critical postmodern framing of Shell’s narrative of oil spills in both local and global contexts. An antenarrative approach considers how stories are woven to produce a unified and omnipotent narrative or image.

Findings

MNCs face considerable uncertainties arising from the operational conditions in developing countries and produce a range of accounts for spectators. As theatrical events, they contribute to the spectacle of power that rationalises controversy and suppresses resistance.

Research limitations/implications

To overcome the limitations of using a single document as empirical material the authors consider the response letter as an example of an institutional framing of oil spill phenomena in general.

Social implications

By understanding the construction of the spectacle the authors open avenues for resistance to corporate discursive hegemony in the form of carnivalesque.

Originality/value

The paper adds to the understanding of hybrid forms of resistance in an era of increasing MNC power and reach. It demonstrates how the actual production and distribution has persuasive power as a form of rhetorical accountability.

Keywords

Citation

Pupovac, S. and Moerman, L. (2017), "Hybrid accounts: Shell’s letter to Mr and Mrs shareholder", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 30 No. 5, pp. 1184-1201. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-05-2015-2068

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited