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How do accounts pass? A discussion of Vollmer’s “Accounting for tacit coordination”

Tommaso Palermo (Department of Accounting, London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 6 September 2022




Building on the notes prepared for a roundtable organized by qualitative research in accounting & management (QRAM) about the paper titled “Accounting for tacit coordination: The passing of accounts and the broader case for accounting theory” (Vollmer, 2019), this paper aims to extend our understanding of “tacit coordination towards the passing of accounts” and its implications for research on accounting as a social practice.


Building on a selective review of previous studies of accounting “in action” and one illustrative vignette, this paper teases out specific aspects of Vollmer’s argument, which is much broader and ambitious in nature. The aim is to go deeper on one issue – “tacit coordination towards the passing of accounts” and the role of (accounting) practitioners as “stewards of silence” – to encourage further work that unpacks the dynamics and tensions that occur when practitioners seek to tacitly coordinate towards the passing of accounts.


This paper shows how our understanding of the relationship between “tacit coordination” and the “passing of accounts” can be enriched by examining how (accounting) practitioners deal with pressures towards explication. To this end, this paper develops three propositions, which focus on how organizational status, organizational complexity and temporal dynamics may affect the extent to which (accounting) practitioners are able to tacitly coordinate towards the passing of accounts.

Practical implications

The three propositions presented in this paper can be used in future studies to further explore the dynamics of tacit coordination towards the passing of accounts and therefore contribute to a more fine-grained illustration of some of the ideas presented in the paper by Vollmer (2019).


This paper sketches the contours of an approach that has the potential to make some of the ambitious ideas presented in Vollmer’s paper more actionable in future studies.



An earlier version of this paper has been presented at the QRAM Workshop on “Tacit Coordination” on 13th October 2021. The author is grateful for the helpful comments of Lukas Goretzki and Thomas Ahrens.


Palermo, T. (2022), "How do accounts pass? A discussion of Vollmer’s “Accounting for tacit coordination”", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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