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Walking the talk? Supply chain accounting and trust among UK supermarkets and suppliers

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  • Free, Clinton
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    Abstract

    This paper examines the way in which calculative practices are implicated in the constitution of trust in the UK retail sector. In the sector, where trust receives much attention in declarations of intent, the notion of category management - a framework for orchestrating collaborative buyer-supplier relations based on dualistic modes of information exchange - has become widely adopted. Drawing on Giddens' conceptualization of trust in abstract systems, it is argued that regimes of calculative practices embedded in the category management framework played an integral role in constituting system trust in category management and enabled its rapid diffusion across the sector. However, modes of supply chain accounting can also be deployed as a mechanism to further particular interests behind a veil of talk about trust. This paper presents a longitudinal field study where management accounting practices pursued under the banner of category management operated to dissemble a variety of self-interested actions and trust was deployed largely as a discursive resource which ultimately resulted in distrust and cynicism. This paper presents a framework for conceptualizing the relationship between accounting and inter-organizational trust and provides insights into the way that accounting techniques such as open booking accounting and joint performance management introduced amid 'trust talk' can act to undermine trust in buyer-supplier relations.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Accounting, Organizations and Society.

    Volume (Year): 33 (2008)
    Issue (Month): 6 (August)
    Pages: 629-662

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:33:y:2008:i:6:p:629-662

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/aos

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    1. Ross, Andrew, 1994. "Trust as a moderator of the effect of performance evaluation style on job-related tension: A research note," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 19(7), pages 629-635, October.
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    9. Neu, Dean, 1991. "New stock issues and the institutional production of trust," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 16(2), pages 185-200.
    10. Frances, Jennifer & Garnsey, Elizabeth, 1996. "Supermarkets and suppliers in the United Kingdom: System integration, information and control," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 591-610, August.
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    12. Keith J. Blois, 1999. "Trust in Business to Business Relationships: An Evaluation of its Status," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(2), pages 197-215, 03.
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    Cited by:
    1. Chenhall, Robert H. & Hall, Matthew & Smith, David, 2010. "Social capital and management control systems: A study of a non-government organization," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 35(8), pages 737-756, November.
    2. Neu, Dean & Everett, Jeff & Rahaman, Abu Shiraz & Martinez, Daniel, 2013. "Accounting and networks of corruption," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(6), pages 505-524.
    3. Hartmann, Frank & Slapnicar, Sergeja, 2009. "How formal performance evaluation affects trust between superior and subordinate managers," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(6-7), pages 722-737, August.

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