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This study sets out to shed light on those infrastructures underlying the ubiquitous, yet contested nature of governing by numbers. Investigating the 30-year long…
This study sets out to shed light on those infrastructures underlying the ubiquitous, yet contested nature of governing by numbers. Investigating the 30-year long emergence of Germany’s “external quality assurance system” for hospitals, the authors show how methods for quantifying quality align with broader institutional and ideational shifts to form a calculative infrastructure for governance. Our study focuses on three phases of infrastructural development wherein methods for calculating quality, institutions for coordinating data and reform ideals converge with one another. The authors argue that the succession of these phases represents a gradual layering process, whereby old ways of enacting quality governance are not replaced, but augmented by new sets of calculative practices, institutions and ideas. Thinking about infrastructures as multi-layered complexes allows us to explore how they construct possibilities for control, remain stable over time and transform the fields in which they are embedded. Rather than governance being enacted according to a singular goal or value, we see an infrastructure that is flexible enough to support multiple modalities of control, including selective intervention, quality-based competition and automatized budgeting. Infrastructural change, instead of revolving around crises in measurement, is shaped by incubation periods – times of relative calm when political actors, medical practitioners, mathematicians, and many others explore and reflect past experiences, rather than follow erratic reforms fads. Finally, analysing infrastructures as multi-layered constructs underlines how they produce multiple images of care quality, which not only shift existing power relations, but also change the ways we understand and make sense of public services.
This paper aims to examine how managers use planning meetings to coordinate their actions in light of an uncertain future. Existing literature suggests that coordination…
This paper aims to examine how managers use planning meetings to coordinate their actions in light of an uncertain future. Existing literature suggests that coordination under uncertainty requires a “dynamic” approach to planning, which is often realized in the form of rolling forecasts and frequent cross-functional exchange. Not so much is known, however, about the micro-level process through which coordination is achieved. This paper suggests that a sensemaking perspective and a focus on “planning talk” are particularly helpful to understand how actors come to a shared understanding of an uncertain future, based upon which they can coordinate their actions.
This paper builds upon a qualitative case study in the Austrian production site of an international manufacturing company. Drawing on a sensemaking perspective, the paper analyses monthly held “planning meetings” in which sales and production managers discuss sales forecasts for the coming months and talk about how to align demand and supply.
The authors show how collective sensemaking unfolds in planning meetings and highlight the role that “plausibilization” of expectations, “calculative reasoning” and “filtering” of information play in this process. This case analysis also sheds light on the challenges that such a sensemaking process may be subject to. In particular, this paper finds that competing hierarchical accountabilities may influence the collective sensemaking process and render coordination more challenging.
The paper contributes to the hitherto limited management accounting and control literature on operational planning, especially its coordination function. It also extends the management accounting and control literature that draws on the concept of sensemaking. The study shows how actors involved in planning meetings create a common understanding of the current and future situation and what sensemaking mechanisms facilitate this process. In this respect, this paper is particularly interested in the role that accounting and other types of numbers can play in this context. Furthermore, it theorizes on the conditions that allow managers to overcome concerns with hierarchical accountabilities and enact socializing forms of accountability, which is often necessary to come to agreements on actions to be taken.