The purpose of this paper is to seek to illustrate the way in which carbon emissions are given calculative agency. The authors contribute to sociology of quantification with a specific focus on the performativity of the carbon number as it was introduced to the organization’s capital investment accounts. In following an intangible gas to a physical amount and then to a dollar value, the authors used categories from the sociology of quantification (Espeland and Stevens, 2008) to explore the persuasive attributes of the newly created number and the way it changed the work of actors, including the way they reacted and viewed authority.
An empirical case study in a large Australian water utility drawing on insights from the sociology of calculation.
The authors present empirics on the calculative appeal of the carbon emissions number, how it came into being and its performative (or reactive) effects. The number disciplined behaviour and acted like a boundary object, while at the same time, enroled allies through its aesthetic appeal in management accounting system designs. In framing the empirics, the authors were able to highlight how the carbon number became a visible actor in the newly emergent and evolving carbon market.
This paper provides an empirical framing that continues the project of writing the sociology of calculation into accounting.
This study contributes to the sociology of quantification in accounting with an empirical framing device to reveal the representational work of a number and how it expands as it becomes implicated in broader networks of calculation.
We would like to thank the managers at the case site who kindly gave their time to this project over the extended time frame. We would also like to thank the valuable comments received from the two anonymous reviewers.
Vesty, G.M., Telgenkamp, A. and Roscoe, P.J. (2015), "Creating numbers: carbon and capital investment", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 28 No. 3, pp. 302-324. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-10-2013-1507Download as .RIS
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