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