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Accounting, hybrids and hybridity – attending to the value dimension in institutional logics

Thomas Ahrens (United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates)
Laurence Ferry (Business School, Durham University, Durham, UK)

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management

ISSN: 1176-6093

Article publication date: 30 September 2022

Issue publication date: 21 October 2022




This study is concerned with the institutional value dimension in recent accounting research into hybrids and hybridity. Such research has been cognitively oriented and neglected the affective and emotional qualities of the values in which institutions are grounded. This study assumes that organisational members use accounting for instrumental reasons conditioned by objective facts. This study aims to offer new impetus to this literature by taking seriously the nature of institutional value.


Essay combined with discussion of published work.


Cognitive misinterpretations of institutional value underplay the force of institutions. One acts upon these not as a matter of cognitive choice but because of beliefs in deeply held values. In the extreme, the value possesses the actor not vice versa. However, because institutional values are ideal and abstract, they can never be fully and incontrovertibly achieved in practice. Certain practices, such as accounting, can come to stand in for the pursuit of the institutional value. In particular contexts, practicing accounting can come to be regarded as pursing institutional values, which makes it an institutional object.


The explication of accounting as an institutional object can show the potential significance of accounting for institutional values, including hybrid values.



The authors are grateful for suggestions by two anonymous reviewers and the editor, as well as comments on an earlier draft by Silvia Jordan and Siamak Soudani. The authors also acknowledge feedback on a presentation by participants of the Workshop on Hybrids Act-Ing for Multiple Values held at Durham University Business School, 7–8 October 2021.


Ahrens, T. and Ferry, L. (2022), "Accounting, hybrids and hybridity – attending to the value dimension in institutional logics", Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Vol. 19 No. 5, pp. 696-715.



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