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Criticisms of capitalism, budgeting and the double enrolment: Budgetary control rhetoric and social reform in France in the 1930s and 1950s

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  • Nicolas Berland

    ()
    (DRM - Dauphine Recherches en Management - CNRS : UMR7088 - Université Paris Dauphine - Paris IX)

  • Eve Chiapello

    ()
    (GREGH - Groupement de Recherche et d'Etudes en Gestion à HEC - GROUPE HEC - CNRS : UMR2959)

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    Abstract

    This article is a contribution to the study of the spread of management innovations, methods and rhetorics. It particularly concerns the influence of ideological and political factors, which have so far mostly escaped in-depth study. In particular, we seek to understand to what extent a critique of society developed by social reformers can be a source of inspiration for managers, leading them to change their practices and experiment with new devices. Relying on the framework of historical change in management practices developed by Boltanski and Chiapello [Boltanski, L., & Chiapello, E. (2005). The new spirit of capitalism. London: Verso (Translation of Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme, Paris: Gallimard, 1999)], we study the specific development of budgetary control in France, examined in the light of the general political and economic history of the 20th century. This framework simultaneously encompasses the dissemination of a new accounting practice, the transformation of capitalist institutions and mo des of regulation in a given period and country, and the programmatic discourses [Miller, P., & Rose, N. (1990). Governing economic life. Economy and Society, 19(1), 1-31] associated with the historical move. More exactly, what interests us is a double enrolment process. The business world promoters of budgetary control use the rhetorics of social reformers to present budgetary control as a solution to the economic and social problems of their time; conversely, social reformers promote budgetary control as a realistic, efficient tool that can change the world. Ultimately, a degree of alliance is possible around this management tool, although the extent to which the meanings each group attributes to its action are shared may remain unclear. Based on an analysis of the writings of budgetary control promoters of the 1930s and the 1950s, we show the close links between their discourse and the reforming ideas of their time, and how we can trace through this corpus the evolution of this kind of political rationalities [Miller, P., & Rose, N. (1990). Governing economic life. Economy and Society, 19(1), 1-31] associated with governing and managing corporations we call the spirit of capitalism [Boltanski, L., & Chiapello, E. (2005). The new spirit of capitalism. London: Verso (Translation of Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme, Paris: Gallimard, 1999)].

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00365946.

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    Date of creation: 05 Jan 2009
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    Publication status: Published, Accounting Organizations and Society, 2009, Vol. 54, ISSUE 1, pp. 28-57
    Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00365946

    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-00365946/en/
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    Keywords: accounting; organizations; society;

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    References

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    4. Miller, Peter & O'Leary, Ted, 1987. "Accounting and the construction of the governable person," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 235-265, April.
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    7. Bourguignon, Annick & Chiapello, Eve, 2003. "The Role of Criticism in the Dynamics of Performance Evaluation Systems," ESSEC Working Papers DR 03017, ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School.
    8. Colwyn Jones, T. & Dugdale, David, 2002. "The ABC bandwagon and the juggernaut of modernity," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 27(1-2), pages 121-163.
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    11. Nicolas Berland, 1999. "À quoi sert le contrôle budgétaire?," Revue Finance Contrôle Stratégie, revues.org, vol. 2(3), pages 5-24, September.
    12. Berland, Nicolas, 1999. "A quoi sert le contrôle budgétaire ?," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/3399, Paris Dauphine University.
    13. Burchell, Stuart & Clubb, Colin & Hopwood, Anthony & Hughes, John & Nahapiet, Janine, 1980. "The roles of accounting in organizations and society," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 5-27, January.
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    16. Nicolas Berland, 1998. "The availability of information and the accumulation of experience as motors for the diffusion of budgetary control: the French experience from the 1920s to the 1960s," Accounting History Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 8(3), pages 303-329.
    17. Hopwood, Anthony G., 1978. "Towards an organizational perspective for the study of accounting and information systems," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 3-13, February.
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