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Article
Publication date: 1 May 2020

Alan Lowe, Yesh Nama, Alice Bryer, Nihel Chabrak, Claire Dambrin, Ingrid Jeacle, Johnny Lind, Philippe Lorino, Keith Robson, Chiara Bottausci, Crawford Spence, Chris Carter and Ekaterina Svetlova

The purpose of this paper is to report the outcome of an interdisciplinary discussion on the concepts of profit and profitability and various ways in which we could…

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1086

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to report the outcome of an interdisciplinary discussion on the concepts of profit and profitability and various ways in which we could potentially problematize these concepts. It is our hope that a much greater attention or reconsideration of the problematization of profit and related accounting numbers will be fostered in part by the exchanges we include here.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper adopts an interdisciplinary discussion approach and brings into conversation ideas and views of several scholars on problematizing profit and profitability in various contexts and explores potential implications of such problematization.

Findings

Profit and profitability measures make invisible the collective endeavour of people who work hard (backstage) to achieve a desired profit level for a division and/or an organization. Profit tends to preclude the social process of debate around contradictions among the ends and means of collective activity. An inherent message that we can discern from our contributors is the typical failure of managers to appreciate the value of critical theory and interpretive research for them. Practitioners and positivist researchers seem to be so influenced by neo-liberal economic ideas that organizations are distrusted and at times reviled in their attachment to profit.

Research limitations/implications

Problematizing opens-up the potential for interesting and significant theoretical insights. A much greater pragmatic and theoretical reconsideration of profit and profitability will be fostered by the exchanges we include here.

Originality/value

In setting out a future research agenda, this paper fosters theoretical and methodological pluralism in the research community focussing on problematizing profit and profitability in various settings. The discussion perspectives offered in this paper provides not only a basis for further research in this critical area of discourse and regulation on the role and status of profit and profitability but also emancipatory potential for practitioners (to be reflective of their practices and their undesired consequences of such practices) whose overarching focus is on these accounting numbers.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 1233 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 30 October 2007

Rihab Khalifa, Nina Sharma, Christopher Humphrey and Keith Robson

This paper aims to develop understanding of how the pursuit of practice change in auditing, especially in relation to audit methodologies, is conveyed, presented…

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7724

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to develop understanding of how the pursuit of practice change in auditing, especially in relation to audit methodologies, is conveyed, presented, reflected in and enabled (or hindered) through discursive, textual constructions by audit firms.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses an extensive series of interviews with audit practitioners, educators and regulators and a textual study of the content, concordances and narratives contained in two key audit methodological texts published by KPMG, one of the Big Four accounting firms.

Findings

Major discursive shifts in audit methodologies are identified over the last decade, with the dominant audit discourse switching from one of “business value” to one of “audit quality”. Such shifts are analysed in terms of developments in the wider, organisational field and discursive (re)constructions of audit at the level of the audit firm.

Originality/value

The identified shifts in auditing discourse are important in a number of respects. They demonstrate the significance of discursive elements of audit practice, contradicting influential prior claims that methodological discussions and developments in audit over the last decade had focused consistently on notions of “audit quality”. Methodologically, they demonstrate the importance and opportunities for knowledge development available by combining institutional, field‐wide analysis with a detailed discursive study of individual interviews and texts.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 20 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1992

Hugh C. Willmott, Anthony G. Puxty, Keith Robson, David J. Cooper and E. Anthony Lowe

Explores the development of regulations for “Accounting forResearch and Development” in four countries: USA, UK, FederalRepublic of Germany and Sweden. Seeks to illuminate…

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1695

Abstract

Explores the development of regulations for “Accounting for Research and Development” in four countries: USA, UK, Federal Republic of Germany and Sweden. Seeks to illuminate the processes of accounting regulation in the specific institutional contexts of each advanced capitalist country, with reference to the particular mix of organizing principles of dispersed competition, hierarchical control and spontaneous solidarity.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 5 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 26 June 2006

Fiona Anderson-Gough, Christopher Grey and Keith Robson

Drawing upon an eight-year-long study of two of the global accounting firms, this chapter suggests that a key aspect of professionalism is networking. Networking within…

Abstract

Drawing upon an eight-year-long study of two of the global accounting firms, this chapter suggests that a key aspect of professionalism is networking. Networking within these firms is crucial to achieving and demonstrating professional competence and to career advancement. It involves sophisticated forms of social practice and permeates a range of organizational processes. It is argued that networking also implies and potentially creates and regulates a particular kind of identity, namely that of the networked self or, more specifically, the networked professional.

Details

Professional Service Firms
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-302-0

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Article
Publication date: 5 October 2020

Bradley Bowden and Peta Stevenson-Clarke

Postmodernist ideas – most particularly those of Foucault but also those of Latour, Derrida and Barthes – have had a much longer presence in accounting research than in…

Abstract

Purpose

Postmodernist ideas – most particularly those of Foucault but also those of Latour, Derrida and Barthes – have had a much longer presence in accounting research than in other business disciplines. However, in large part, the debates in accounting history and management history, have moved in parallel but separate universes. The purpose of this study is therefore one of exploring not only critical accounting understandings that are significant for management history but also one of highlighting conceptual flaws that are common to the postmodernist literature in both accounting and management history.

Design/methodology/approach

Foucault has been seminal to the critical traditions that have emerged in both accounting research and management history. In exploring the usage of Foucault’s ideas, this paper argues that an over-reliance on a set of Foucauldian concepts – governmentality, “disciplinary society,” neo-liberalism – that were never conceived with an eye to the problems of accounting and management has resulted in not only in the drawing of some very longbows from Foucault’s formulations but also misrepresentations of the French philosophers’ ideas.

Findings

Many, if not most, of the intellectual positions associated with the “Historic Turn” and ANTi-History – that knowledge is inherently subjective, that management involves exercising power at distance, that history is a social construct that is used to legitimate capitalism and management – were argued in the critical accounting literature long before Clark and Rowlinson’s (2004) oft cited call. Indeed, the “call” for a “New Accounting History” issued by Miller et al. (1991) played a remarkably similar role to that made by Clark and Rowlinson in management and organizational studies more than a decade later.

Originality/value

This is the first study to explore the marked similarities between the critical accounting literature, most particularly that related to the “New Accounting History” and that associated with the “Historic Turn” and ANTi-History in management and organizational studies.

Details

Journal of Management History, vol. 27 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1751-1348

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2009

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1134

Abstract

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 22 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Content available
Article
Publication date: 20 June 2008

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209

Abstract

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 21 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Content available
Article
Publication date: 30 March 2010

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1497

Abstract

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 23 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 October 1996

Pam Edwards, Mahmoud Ezzamel, Keith Robson and Margaret Taylor

Examines the construction of the funding formula, following the 1988 Education Act, used to determine the levels of devolved budgets in three English local education…

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3299

Abstract

Examines the construction of the funding formula, following the 1988 Education Act, used to determine the levels of devolved budgets in three English local education authorities (LEAs). Explains that, in each LEA, a team was formed to determine the funding formula. Also explains that, as most schools pre‐local management of schools (LMS) only kept aggregate records showing the cost of education at the levels of primary/secondary sectors rather than individual school level, the LMS teams faced serious problems in defining budget parameters, identifying cost elements and attributing costs to functions. More critically, points out that while the 1988 Education Act made it clear that the new budgeting system should be comprehensive in the sense of not merely reflecting past expenditure patterns but being based on perceived education needs, the LMS teams developed funding formulae which predominantly preserved the status quo established by historical expenditure patterns. Explores both the arguments and the mechanisms which each LMS team deployed in order to produce an incrementalist budgeting system and the constraints that operated on incrementalism.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2005

Pamela Edwards, Mahmoud Ezzamel and Keith Robson

Seeks to explain the survival of the Local Education Authority (LEA) as an organizational form despite the significant reform of UK education that created a hostile…

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2015

Abstract

Purpose

Seeks to explain the survival of the Local Education Authority (LEA) as an organizational form despite the significant reform of UK education that created a hostile environment for them.

Design/methodology/approach

Adopting a historical perspective and drawing on neo‐institutional sociology, analyses the structuration of the educational field and the survival strategies of three LEAs, from 1988 to the mid‐1990s. The evidence base is some 100 semi‐structured interviews conducted between 1993 and 1997 with local education officers, head teachers and members of Boards of Governors.

Findings

The paper shows that LEAs have been able to continually transmute structures and reproduce social systems that secured their continued and major involvement in education. Coping strategies were designed that reduced their own bureaucracy, built partnerships and new patterns of coalitions with schools, and discouraged a broadening of the organizational field.

Research limitations/implications

Although the evidence comes from just three LEAs, survival strategies appear to have been adopted across the country, but there may be regional variations that could be further explored. In addition, parents were not interviewed, and issues of parent power and the nature of relationships between parents and other participants in the organizational field would be fruitful areas for future research.

Practical implications

In practice the system of education remains dominated by the producers of education, although the head teacher has more and the LEA less power than previously.

Originality/value

The historical perspective offers an understanding of institutional context by focusing on changes over time and generates insights on how organizations behave and develop.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 18 no. 6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

Keywords

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