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In search of consensus: The role of accounting in the definition and reproduction of dominant interests

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  • Farjaudon, Anne-Laure
  • Morales, Jérémy
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    Abstract

    This article examines the role of accounting in the manufacture of consensus. Consensus building is often considered a central value for rational decision-making and management. However, more than a democratic confrontation of vantage points, the quest for consensus is a way to discourage conflict and resistance. Our main argument is that accounting and consensus play central roles in processes of definition and the social reproduction of dominant interests. Accounting acts to promote some stakes and strategies (and silence others), as if they were collective and disinterested, which makes them more powerful in debates that deny struggles and asymmetries in positions of power, as well as increases legitimacy by creating an illusion of participation. We illustrate these processes through a case study in which we document the intersection between two fields of knowledge, marketing and accounting, that compete for a monopoly on the definition of value and the ability to speak for the organisation. This analysis draws on Bourdieu's conceptualisation of symbolic domination to highlight how powerful actors secure influence while avoiding contestation. Accounting produces symbolic violence that consolidates asymmetries in positions of power by shaping what is consensual and what is not so that dominant interests are reproduced with the consent of those who have most to lose in the process.

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    File URL: http://basepub.dauphine.fr/xmlui/bitstream/123456789/10730/1/aims2012_SD.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Paris Dauphine University in its series Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine with number 123456789/10730.

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    Date of creation: 2013
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    Publication status: Published in Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 2013, Vol. 24, no. 2. pp. 154-171.Length: 17 pages
    Handle: RePEc:dau:papers:123456789/10730

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    Related research

    Keywords: Consensus; Symbolic domination; Brand valuation; Intellectual capital; Management control;

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    1. Hall, Matthew, 2010. "Accounting information and managerial work," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 301-315, April.
    2. Golsorkhi, Damon & Huault, Isabelle, 2006. "Pierre Bourdieu : critique et réflexivité comme attitude analytique," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/621, Paris Dauphine University.
    3. Bertrand Malsch & Yves Gendron & Frédérique Grazzini, 2011. "Investigating interdisciplinary translations: The influence of Pierre Bourdieu on accounting literature," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 24(2), pages 194-228, February.
    4. Ezzamel, Mahmoud & Willmott, Hugh & Worthington, Frank, 2008. "Manufacturing shareholder value: The role of accounting in organizational transformation," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(2-3), pages 107-140.
    5. Hopwood, Anthony G., 1987. "The archeology of accounting systems," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 207-234, April.
    6. David Cooper & Jeff Everett & Dean Neu, 2005. "Financial scandals, accounting change and the role of accounting academics: A perspective from North America," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(2), pages 373-382.
    7. Neu, Dean, 2006. "Accounting for public space," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(4-5), pages 391-414.
    8. Suddaby, Roy & Cooper, David J. & Greenwood, Royston, 2007. "Transnational regulation of professional services: Governance dynamics of field level organizational change," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(4-5), pages 333-362.
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