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Article
Publication date: 19 January 2021

Laurence Ferry and Richard Slack

Hybrid organising faces a fundamental challenge in managing multiple and conflicting logics. Prior studies have evidenced the performative role of accounting within such a…

Abstract

Purpose

Hybrid organising faces a fundamental challenge in managing multiple and conflicting logics. Prior studies have evidenced the performative role of accounting within such a context largely in support of neoliberal hegemony and economic logic. Mindful of such conflict and the support towards economic logic, drawing on universal accountings, this study provides insights from counter accounting and its potential to serve pluralism and the emancipation of marginalised constituencies.

Design/methodology/approach

The research examined The Great Exhibition of the North (GEOTN), England's largest event in 2018, which utilised themes of art, design and innovation to support a regeneration and economic growth agenda. This was led by NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) a hybrid organisation combining logics for economic and social legacies, whose accounts are contrasted to counter accounts from a social movement; The Other Great Exhibition of the North, “OtherGEN”. The study involved 30 in-depth semi-structured interviews, detailed observation and documentation review providing account and counter account of the event.

Findings

The findings reveal that GEOTN promoted an agenda offering a duality of economic and social logics through the arts and culture delivering a lasting economic and social legacy. This employed traditional accountings and associated performance targets and measurement through a formal evaluation framework. Emergent tensions were apparent evidencing a more dominant economic logic. The purported use of culture was portrayed as artwashing by a counter account narrative enmeshed in a backdrop of austerity. This wider accounting highlights the need for reflection on logic plurality and enables challenge to the performative role of traditional accounting in hybrid organising.

Originality/value

Universal accountings, such as counter accounting, can be advanced to unpack “faked” logics duality in hybrid organising. This reveals the emancipatory potential of accountings and the need for dialogic reflection. Hybrid organising requires careful consideration of accounting as a universal praxis to support social and economic pluralism and democratic ideals.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 September 2006

Sonja Gallhofer, Jim Haslam, Elizabeth Monk and Clare Roberts

The purpose of this paper is to elaborate upon the notion of counter accounting, to assess the potentiality of online reports for counter accounting and hence for counter

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5273

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to elaborate upon the notion of counter accounting, to assess the potentiality of online reports for counter accounting and hence for counter accounting's emancipatory potential as online reporting, to assess the extent to which this potential is being realised and to suggest ways forward from a critical perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

There are several components to a critical interpretive analysis: critical evaluative analysis, informed to some extent by prior literature in diverse fields; web survey; questionnaire survey; case study.

Findings

Web‐based counter accounting may be understood as having emancipatory potential, some of which is being realised in practice. Not all the positive potential is, however, being realised as one might hope: things that might properly be done are not always being done. And there are threats to progress in the future.

Originality/value

Clarification of a notion of counter accounting incorporating the activity of groups such as pressure groups and NGOs; rare study into practices and opinions in this context through a critical evaluative lens.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 19 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 21 August 2017

Mercy Denedo, Ian Thomson and Akira Yonekura

The purpose of this paper is to explore how and why international advocacy NGOs (iaNGOs) use counter accounting as part of their campaigns against oil companies operating…

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2954

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore how and why international advocacy NGOs (iaNGOs) use counter accounting as part of their campaigns against oil companies operating in the Niger Delta to reform problematic regulatory systems and make visible corporate practices that exploit governance and accountability gaps in relation to human rights violations and environmental damage.

Design/methodology/approach

This arena study draws on different sources of evidence, including interviews with nine iaNGOs representatives involved in campaigns in the Niger Delta. The authors mapped out the history of the conflict in order to locate and make sense of the interviewees’ views on counter accounting, campaigning strategies, accountability and governance gaps as well as their motivations and aspirations for change.

Findings

The evidence revealed an inability of vulnerable communities to engage in relevant governance systems, due to unequal power relationships, corporate actions and ineffective governance practices. NGOs used counter accounts as part of their campaigns to change corporate practices, reform governance systems and address power imbalances. Counter accounts made visible problematic actions to those with power over those causing harm, gave voice to indigenous communities and pressured the Nigerian Government to reform their governance processes.

Practical implications

Understanding the intentions, desired outcomes and limitations of NGO’s use of counter accounting could influence human rights accountability and governance reforms in political institutions, public sector organisations, NGOs and corporations, especially in developing countries.

Social implications

This paper seeks to contribute to accounting research that seeks to protect the wealth and natural endowments of indigenous communities to enhance their life experience.

Originality/value

By interviewing the preparers of counter accounts the authors uncover their reasons as to why they find accounting useful in their campaigns.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 11 July 2019

Darlene Himick and Kate Ruff

Profit is often moralized by activists, but scant research has carefully examined what profit is for these activists or how they use it to create a more just world. The…

Abstract

Purpose

Profit is often moralized by activists, but scant research has carefully examined what profit is for these activists or how they use it to create a more just world. The purpose of this paper is to investigate how social movements use counter accounts of profit as tools of resistance.

Design/methodology/approach

A multiple case study design, informed by framing theory, is used to trace the framing of profit from activists’ counter accounts to actions they precipitated. Specifically, the study examines counter accounts of profit from the UK abolition movement, Médecines Sans Frontières access to essential medicines campaign and Brigitte Bardot Foundation’s opposition to the Canadian seal hunt, and how their framings of profit influenced change.

Findings

Activists reframe profit to create visibilities and bridges to the suffering of distant others. Reframing the calculation and boundary of profit is a strategy to elicit moral outrage, hope and ultimately a more just world. Through these reframings, activists in three different social movements were able to change the possibilities of who and what can be profitable, and how.

Social implications

The inherently incomplete nature of accounting frames give rise to accounting’s vulnerability to non-accountants to assert their views of a moral profit. Accounting therefore is both a means of control at a distance but also “emancipation at a distance.”

Originality/value

Scholars have asserted that accounting can be used for resistance, few studies have examined how. By examining how activists assert what profit is – and should be – the paper documents and theorizes profit as contested and highlights accounting’s emancipatory potential.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 18 September 2017

Matias Laine and Eija Vinnari

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the dynamics and transformative potential associated with counter accounts. It explores how counter-accountants’ attempts to…

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1770

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the dynamics and transformative potential associated with counter accounts. It explores how counter-accountants’ attempts to rearticulate animal production result in their own identity becoming constructed during the conflict setting and how this identity subsequently relates to the transformative potential of the counter accounts.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper investigates counter accounts released during an animal rights activists’ campaign against industrial meat and dairy production in Finland. The counter accounts, consisting of secretly filmed videos from pig farms, contrasted the official depiction of animal farming and received wide publicity over several years. The main empirical data set consists of 21 interviews with a variety of parties that have a stake in the conflict. This data set is supplemented with a broad set of published documentary material.

Findings

The authors find that the counter accounts managed, to some extent, to rearticulate the meaning of animal production, potentially resulting in the emergence of small-scale societal effects. When trying to undermine the counter-accountants’ radical political demand, the dominant social groups not only dismissed the counter accounts but also attempted to constitute the counter-accountants’ identity as irresponsible, militant and negligent, drawing a firm political boundary between “them” and “us.” Likewise, the counter-accountants seemed reluctant to communicate with representatives of the dominant regime, resulting in an antagonistic as opposed to an agonistic relationship between the two political groups. The paper also discusses ethical questions concerning the production of counter accounts, the importance of having a clearly articulated political vision, and the challenges related to evaluating whether the counter accounts have been successful.

Originality/value

The paper provides insights into the design, use and reception of counter accounts in a real-life social setting, thus providing a direct response to a recent call by Thomson et al. (2015). The paper illustrates the usefulness of the conceptual dynamic conflict arena framework presented by Thomson et al. (2015), and makes use of discourse theory (Laclau and Mouffe, 1985; Laclau, 2005, 2001, 1996) to highlight how in exploring the transformative potential of counter accounts it is necessary to also consider how the identity of the counter-accountants becomes constructed and understood. Furthermore, the paper also seeks to advance the connections between accounting research and significant global problems by investigating an ethically and environmentally disputed industry, and by engaging with the interrelationships between accounts and accountability in the context of socio-ecological change.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 16 February 2015

Oana Mihaela Apostol

The purpose of this paper is to look more closely, in the context of a given case study, at the role of civil society’s counter-accounts in facilitating democratic change…

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1474

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to look more closely, in the context of a given case study, at the role of civil society’s counter-accounts in facilitating democratic change in society, as an essential goal of an emancipatory and radical social accounting project.

Design/methodology/approach

A case study of a Canadian company’s plans to open a gold mine in western Romania is here analysed. Civil society’s opposition to the mining project gave rise to an unprecedented social movement contesting the project’s utility for Romanian society. The role played by counter-accounts produced by civil society groups is investigated.

Findings

Counter-accounts produced by civil society played multiple roles in the case study analysed. First, counter-accounts indicated the failure of corporate reports to present the gold mining project in a balanced manner. Second, counter-accounts were successful in problematizing the corporate approach to addressing the social, cultural and environmental impacts of the project, while also nurturing societal debate on these issues. Third, counter-accounts exposed the ideological inclinations of state institutions to favour economic interests over the social, cultural and environmental ones. As a result of these contributions, even if the counter-accounts were subjective, this study claims that they form a good basis for the development of emancipatory accounting.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations associated with an interpretative approach and case study research apply.

Originality/value

The paper illustrates the potential of civil society’s counter accounts to enable societal debates, as means towards democratic, transformative change.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 28 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 20 October 2020

Da Yang, John Dumay and Dale Tweedie

In 2015, one university student in KC – a small town in regional Australia – unknowingly launched a resistance movement and national debate on modern wage theft. We apply…

Abstract

Purpose

In 2015, one university student in KC – a small town in regional Australia – unknowingly launched a resistance movement and national debate on modern wage theft. We apply labour process theory to analyse accounting's role in this case.

Design/methodology/approach

We study multiple instances of wage theft in one Australian town. This case site reveals how wage theft can emerge in a developed economy with well-established legal and institutional constraints. We use Thompson's “core” labour process theory to analyse accounting's role via two interrelated dialectics: (1) structure and agency and, (2) control and resistance.

Findings

Accounting was “weaponised” by both sides of the controversy: as a tool of employer control and as a vehicle for student resistance. Digital technologies enabled employee resistance to form unconsciously and organically. Proponents mobilised informally, with information and accounting the ammunition.

Social implications

Wage theft affects industrialised as well as developing economies, especially “precarious” workers. We show how accounting can conceal exploitation, but also how – with the right support – accounting can help vulnerable workers enforce their rights and entitlements.

Originality/value

The paper uncovers novel dynamics of exploitation and resistance at work under contemporary economic and technological conditions. Labour process theory can provide a more dialectical perspective on accounting's role in these dynamics, including the emancipatory potential of informal and opportunistic counter-accounts.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 34 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 27 October 2020

Cheryl R. Lehman and Gloria Agyemang

Our examination of accounting and violence aims to reinvigorate what it means to provide accountability and visibility given that knowledge and values are socially…

Abstract

Our examination of accounting and violence aims to reinvigorate what it means to provide accountability and visibility given that knowledge and values are socially constructed. The authors follow the legacy of critical accounting research in this essay, using counter accounts, shadow accounting, and narratives to uncover the discipline’s relationship to violence, women, and migrants.

Details

Resistance and Accountability
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83867-993-4

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Article
Publication date: 15 June 2015

Ian Thomson, Colin Dey and Shona Russell

The purpose of this paper is to provide theoretical and empirical insights into the effective use of external accounts by social activists in conflict arenas in order to…

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5456

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide theoretical and empirical insights into the effective use of external accounts by social activists in conflict arenas in order to bring about change.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper presents a longitudinal case study of Action on Smoking and Health UK (ASH) and their use of external accounts and other activist practices during the period 1999-2010. The authors explore these practices from the perspective of one organisation engaged in conflict arenas concerning the (un)acceptability of tobacco production, consumption and governance. The authors conduct the exploration based upon a dynamic conflict arena framework that attends to the range of external accounting and activist practices, tactical intentions and states of conflict used by ASH to confront the tobacco industry and bring about change in tobacco governance.

Findings

The study identifies the use of a diverse range of external accounts and other activist practices. This assemblage of practices was used to confront, counter-act and to co-operate with actors engaged in tobacco-related conflicts. The evidence suggests that the deployment of different types of external accounts by ASH was aligned to the context of the particular conflict arena involved, and was influenced by the strategy and engagement tactics of the activists and other actors, as well as power dynamics and acceptability of the tobacco governance in the conflict arena. Whilst ASH used different external accounts in specific episodes of activism, these individual accounts also contributed to an emerging holistic account of the unacceptable consequences of tobacco production, consumption and governance.

Originality/value

This study provides new theoretical and empirical insights into how external accounts can contribute to the problematisation of governance and development of social and environmental change agendas. The dynamic conflict arena framework developed in this paper creates new visibilities and possibilities for developing external accounting practices and for researching this fast-developing area of social and environmental accounting.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 28 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 14 July 2014

Martin E. Persson and Christopher J. Napier

The purpose of this paper is to examine the challenges faced by an Australian accounting academic, R. J. Chambers, in the 1950s, in breaking into the accounting research…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the challenges faced by an Australian accounting academic, R. J. Chambers, in the 1950s, in breaking into the accounting research community, at that time, almost entirely located in the USA and the UK. For academics outside the networks of accounting research publication in these countries, there were significant, but not insurmountable obstacles to conducting and publishing accounting research. We examine how these obstacles could be overcome, using the notion of “trials of strength” to trace the efforts of Chambers in wrestling with intellectual issues arising from post-war inflation, acquiring accounting literature from abroad and publishing his endeavours.

Design/methodology/approach

The article uses actor-network theory to provide an analytical structure for a “counter-narrative” history firmly grounded in the archives.

Findings

Documents from the R. J. Chambers Archive at the University of Sydney form the empirical basis for a narrative that portrays accounting research as a diverse process driven as much by circumstances – such as geographical location, access to accounting literature and personal connections – as the merits of the intellectual arguments.

Research limitations/implications

Although the historical details are specific to the case being studied, the article provides insights into the challenges faced by researchers on the outside of international research networks in achieving recognition and in participating in academic debates.

Practical implications

The findings of this article can provide guidance and inspiration to accounting researchers attempting to participate in wider academic communities.

Originality/value

The article uses documents from perhaps the most extensive archive relating to an individual accounting academic. It examines the process of academic research in accounting in terms of the material context in which such research takes place, whereas most discussions have focussed on the underlying ideas and concepts, abstracted from the context in which they emerge.

Details

Meditari Accountancy Research, vol. 22 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2049-372X

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