The office: The weakness of numbers and the production of non-authority
It often seems to be taken for granted that numbers produce effects and that practices of accounting enhance authority. This also goes for accounting and the environment. This paper shares this belief and argues that practices of accounting have been a crucial technology for taking nature or 'the environment' into account in the post-war era. Nevertheless, the 'constitutive turn' in the studies of accounting should not tempt us to leave unexplored the limitation of accounting practices and the inabilities to govern by numbers. With a point of departure in a pollution control agency, the paper explores the making of a non-authoritative office. It points to the emergence of what is labelled 'accounting intimacy' rather than the exertion of government at a distance. The paper also points to the ways in which the agency, rather than building a separate and distinct authority, came to reproduce the actor subjected to being governed, i.e., the polluting factory, within its own office. The author argues that this can be related to the investment in a shared 'technical interest' and the belief that the right (emission) number in itself would be sufficient to move the factory. The paper then explores the conditions for which numbers nevertheless came to have effects. The argument is that this should be seen as inextricably linked to the emergence of an 'interesting object', i.e., 'the environment' and an environmental interest, within the office. Thus, we need to pay attention to the formation of interests, and as accounting scholars turn to 'the environment', the latter should not be taken for granted.
If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Engels, Anita, 2009. "The European Emissions Trading Scheme: An exploratory study of how companies learn to account for carbon," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(3-4), pages 488-498, April.
- Callon, Michel, 2009. "Civilizing markets: Carbon trading between in vitro and in vivo experiments," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(3-4), pages 535-548, April.
- Hopwood, Anthony G., 2009. "Accounting and the environment," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(3-4), pages 433-439, April.
- MacKenzie, Donald, 2009. "Making things the same: Gases, emission rights and the politics of carbon markets," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(3-4), pages 440-455, April.
- 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.
- Braun, Marcel, 2009. "The evolution of emissions trading in the European Union - The role of policy networks, knowledge and policy entrepreneurs," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(3-4), pages 469-487, April.
- Cook, Allan, 2009. "Emission rights: From costless activity to market operations," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(3-4), pages 456-468, April.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:36:y:2011:i:1:p:1-9. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Shamier, Wendy)
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.