Accounting, Foucault and debates about management and organizations

No Thumbnail Available
File version
Author(s)
Bowden, Bradley
Stevenson-Clarke, Peta
Griffith University Author(s)
Primary Supervisor
Other Supervisors
Editor(s)
Date
2020
Size
File type(s)
Location
License
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.

Journal Title
Journal of Management History
Conference Title
Book Title
Edition
Volume
Issue
Thesis Type
Degree Program
School
Publisher link
Patent number
Funder(s)
Grant identifier(s)
Rights Statement
Rights Statement
Item Access Status
Note
This publication has been entered in Griffith Research Online as an advanced online version.
Access the data
Related item(s)
Subject
Accounting, auditing and accountability
History and philosophy of specific fields
Social Sciences
Historic Turn
ANTi-History
Economics
Persistent link to this record
Citation
Bowden, B; Stevenson-Clarke, P, Accounting, Foucault and debates about management and organizations, Journal of Management History, 2020
Collections