IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/aosoci/v60y2017icp79-95.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Evaluative infrastructures: Accounting for platform organization

Author

Listed:
  • Kornberger, Martin
  • Pflueger, Dane
  • Mouritsen, Jan

Abstract

Platform organizations such as Uber, eBay and Airbnb represent a growing disruptive phenomenon in contemporary capitalism, transforming economic organization, the nature of work, and the distribution of wealth. This paper investigates the accounting practices that underpin this new form of organizing, and in doing so confronts a significant challenge within the accounting literature: the need to escape what Hopwood (1996) describes as its “hierarchical consciousness”. In order to do so, this paper develops the concept of evaluative infrastructure which describes accounting practices that enable platform based organization. They are evaluative because they deploy a plethora of interacting devices, including rankings, ratings, reviews, and audits to establish orders of worth. They are infrastructures because they provide the invisible yet essential mechanisms for the flow of economic activity and exchange on platforms. Illustrating the concept of evaluative infrastructure with the example of eBay, the paper's contribution is to (1) provide an analytical vocabulary to capture the accounting practices underpinning platforms as new organizational forms, and in so doing (2) extend accounting scholars' analytical focus from hierarchical settings towards heterarchies. Conceptually, this shift from management accounting to evaluative infrastructures entails a focus on relationality (evaluative infrastructures do not represent or reference but relate things, people and ideas with each other); generativity (evaluative infrastructures do not territorialize objects but disclose new worlds); and new forms of control (evaluative infrastructures are not centres of calculation; rather, control is radically distributed, whilst power remains centralized).

Suggested Citation

  • Kornberger, Martin & Pflueger, Dane & Mouritsen, Jan, 2017. "Evaluative infrastructures: Accounting for platform organization," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 79-95.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:60:y:2017:i:c:p:79-95
    DOI: 10.1016/j.aos.2017.05.002
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0361368217300351
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Martin Kornberger & Chris Carter, 2010. "Manufacturing competition: how accounting practices shape strategy making in cities," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 325-349, March.
    2. Graham, Cameron, 2010. "Accounting and the construction of the retired person," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 23-46, January.
    3. Martin, Chris J., 2016. "The sharing economy: A pathway to sustainability or a nightmarish form of neoliberal capitalism?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 149-159.
    4. Seal, Willie & Berry, Anthony & Cullen, John, 2004. "Disembedding the supply chain: institutionalized reflexivity and inter-firm accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 73-92, January.
    5. Josh Lerner & Jean Tirole, 2002. "Some Simple Economics of Open Source," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 197-234, June.
    6. Liisa Kurunm�ki & Peter Miller, 2013. "Calculating failure: The making of a calculative infrastructure for forgiving and forecasting failure," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(7), pages 1100-1118, October.
    7. Poon, Martha, 2009. "From new deal institutions to capital markets: Commercial consumer risk scores and the making of subprime mortgage finance," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 654-674, July.
    8. Lucien Karpik, 2010. "Valuing the Unique: The Economics of Singularities," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 9215, October.
    9. Gregory Lewis, 2011. "Asymmetric Information, Adverse Selection and Online Disclosure: The Case of eBay Motors," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1535-1546, June.
    10. West, Joel, 2003. "How open is open enough?: Melding proprietary and open source platform strategies," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(7), pages 1259-1285, July.
    11. Youngjin Yoo & Richard J. Boland & Kalle Lyytinen & Ann Majchrzak, 2012. "Organizing for Innovation in the Digitized World," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(5), pages 1398-1408, October.
    12. Power, Michael, 2015. "How accounting begins: object formation and the accretion of infrastructure," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 64324, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    13. 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.
    14. Paul Resnick & Richard Zeckhauser & John Swanson & Kate Lockwood, 2006. "The value of reputation on eBay: A controlled experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 9(2), pages 79-101, June.
    15. Power, Michael, 1992. "After calculation? Reflection on critique of economic reason by Andre Gorz," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 17(5), pages 477-499, July.
    16. Young, Joni J., 2006. "Making up users," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 579-600, August.
    17. Dekker, Henri C., 2004. "Control of inter-organizational relationships: evidence on appropriation concerns and coordination requirements," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 27-49, January.
    18. Paul Dourish & Genevieve Bell, 2007. "The Infrastructure of Experience and the Experience of Infrastructure: Meaning and Structure in Everyday Encounters with Space," Environment and Planning B, , vol. 34(3), pages 414-430, June.
    19. Miller, Peter & O'Leary, Ted, 1994. "Accounting, "economic citizenship" and the spatial reordering of manufacture," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 15-43, January.
    20. David Lucking‐Reiley & Doug Bryan & Naghi Prasad & Daniel Reeves, 2007. "Pennies From Ebay: The Determinants Of Price In Online Auctions," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(2), pages 223-233, June.
    21. Beckert, Jens & Aspers, Patrik (ed.), 2011. "The Worth of Goods: Valuation and Pricing in the Economy," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199594658.
    22. Klein, T.J. & Lambertz, C. & Spagnalo, G. & Stahl, K.O., 2009. "The actual structure of eBay’s feedback mechanism and early evidence on the effect of recent changes," Other publications TiSEM b4c7374f-b992-445a-b5c6-8, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    23. Dekker, Henri C., 2008. "Partner selection and governance design in interfirm relationships," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 915-941.
    24. Michael Power, 1992. "The politics of brand accounting in the United Kingdom," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 39-68.
    25. Ingrid Jeacle & Lee Parker, 2013. "The 'problem' of the office: Scientific management, governmentality and the strategy of efficiency," Business History, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 55(7), pages 1074-1099, October.
    26. Martha Poon, 2009. "From New Deal institutions to capital markets: commercial consumer risk scores and the making of subprime mortgage finance," Post-Print halshs-00359712, HAL.
    27. 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.
    28. Pollock, Neil & D’Adderio, Luciana, 2012. "Give me a two-by-two matrix and I will create the market: Rankings, graphic visualisations and sociomateriality," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 565-586.
    29. Peter Miller, 1998. "The margins of accounting," European Accounting Review, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 7(4), pages 605-621.
    30. Susan Leigh Star & Karen Ruhleder, 1996. "Steps Toward an Ecology of Infrastructure: Design and Access for Large Information Spaces," Information Systems Research, INFORMS, vol. 7(1), pages 111-134, March.
    31. Miller, Peter & O'Leary, Ted, 2007. "Mediating instruments and making markets: Capital budgeting, science and the economy," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 32(7-8), pages 701-734.
    32. Luis Cabral & Ali Hortacsu, 2004. "The Dynamics of Seller Reputation: Theory and Evidence from eBay," NBER Working Papers 10363, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    33. Weinberg, Bruce D. & Davis, Lenita, 2005. "Exploring the WOW in online-auction feedback," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 58(11), pages 1609-1621, November.
    34. Michael Luca, 2016. "Designing Online Marketplaces: Trust and Reputation Mechanisms," Harvard Business School Working Papers 17-017, Harvard Business School.
    35. Michael Luca, 2016. "Designing Online Marketplaces: Trust and Reputation Mechanisms," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 17, pages 77-93, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    36. Macintosh, Norman B. & Shearer, Teri & Thornton, Daniel B. & Welker, Michael, 2000. "Accounting as simulacrum and hyperreality: perspectives on income and capital," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 13-50, January.
    37. Vollmer, Hendrik & Mennicken, Andrea & Preda, Alex, 2009. "Tracking the numbers: Across accounting and finance, organizations and markets," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 619-637, July.
    38. Mouritsen, Jan & Thrane, Sof, 2006. "Accounting, network complementarities and the development of inter-organisational relations," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 241-275, April.
    39. Mouritsen, Jan, 2011. "The operation of representation in accounting: A small addition to Dr. Macintosh's theory of accounting truths," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 228-235.
    40. Hakansson, Hakan & Lind, Johnny, 2004. "Accounting and network coordination," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 51-72, January.
    41. Hopwood, Anthony G., 1983. "On trying to study accounting in the contexts in which it operates," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 8(2-3), pages 287-305, May.
    42. Dong-Jae Kim & Bruce Kogut, 1996. "Technological Platforms and Diversification," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 7(3), pages 283-301, June.
    43. Kevin J. Boudreau, 2012. "Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom? An Early Look at Large Numbers of Software App Developers and Patterns of Innovation," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 23(5), pages 1409-1427, October.
    44. Justus Haucap & Ulrich Heimeshoff, 2014. "Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay: Is the Internet driving competition or market monopolization?," International Economics and Economic Policy, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 49-61, February.
    45. Jeacle, Ingrid & Carter, Chris, 2011. "In TripAdvisor we trust: Rankings, calculative regimes and abstract systems," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 36(4), pages 293-309.
    46. Hopwood, Anthony G., 1996. "Looking across rather than up and down: On the need to explore the lateral processing of information," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 21(6), pages 589-590, August.
    47. Chua, Wai Fong, 1995. "Experts, networks and inscriptions in the fabrication of accounting images: A story of the representation of three public hospitals," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 20(2-3), pages 111-145.
    48. Hopwood, Anthony G., 1987. "The archeology of accounting systems," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 207-234, April.
    49. Caglio, Ariela & Ditillo, Angelo, 2008. "A review and discussion of management control in inter-firm relationships: Achievements and future directions," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 865-898.
    50. Jones, Michael John, 2010. "Sources of power and infrastructural conditions in medieval governmental accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 81-94, January.
    51. Kurunmaki, Liisa & Miller, Peter, 2013. "Calculating failure: the making of a calculative infrastructure for forgiving and forecasting failure," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 50673, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    52. Michael Luca, 2016. "Designing Online Marketplaces: Trust and Reputation Mechanisms," NBER Working Papers 22616, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    53. Burchell, Stuart & Clubb, Colin & Hopwood, Anthony G., 1985. "Accounting in its social context: Towards a history of value added in the United Kingdom," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 10(4), pages 381-413, October.
    54. Fourcade, Marion & Healy, Kieran, 2013. "Classification situations: Life-chances in the neoliberal era," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 38(8), pages 559-572.
    55. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
    56. Millo, Yuval & MacKenzie, Donald, 2009. "The usefulness of inaccurate models: Towards an understanding of the emergence of financial risk management," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 34(5), pages 638-653, July.
    57. Vollmer, Hendrik & Mennicken, Andrea & Preda, Alex, 2009. "Tracking the numbers: across accounting and finance, organizations and markets," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 27073, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    58. Power, Michael, 2015. "How accounting begins: Object formation and the accretion of infrastructure," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 43-55.
    59. Dan N. Stone & Alexei N. Nikitkov & Timothy C. Miller, 2014. "Strategy, IT and control @ eBay, 1995-2005: The management control system (MCS) as consumer product," Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 11(4), pages 357-379, November.
    60. Argyris, Chris, 1990. "The dilemma of implementing controls: The case of managerial accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 15(6), pages 503-511.
    61. Martha Poon, 2009. "From New Deal institutions to capital markets: commercial consumer risk scores and the making of subprime mortgage finance," CSI Working Papers Series 014, Centre de Sociologie de l'Innovation (CSI), Mines ParisTech.
    62. Miller, Peter & Napier, Christopher, 1993. "Genealogies of calculation," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 18(7-8), pages 631-647.
    63. Steven Tadelis, 2016. "Reputation and Feedback Systems in Online Platform Markets," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 8(1), pages 321-340, October.
    64. Fabian Muniesa & Yuval Millo & Michel Callon, 2007. "An introduction to market devices," Post-Print halshs-00177928, HAL.
    65. Robson, Keith, 1992. "Accounting numbers as "inscription": Action at a distance and the development of accounting," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 17(7), pages 685-708, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Knudsen, Dan-Richard, 2020. "Elusive boundaries, power relations, and knowledge production: A systematic review of the literature on digitalization in accounting," International Journal of Accounting Information Systems, Elsevier, vol. 36(C).
    2. Arena, Marika & Arnaboldi, Michela & Palermo, Tommaso, 2017. "The dynamics of (dis)integrated risk management: a comparative field study," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84285, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. Vollmer, Hendrik, 2019. "Accounting for tacit coordination: The passing of accounts and the broader case for accounting theory," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 73(C), pages 15-34.
    4. Hall, Matthew & O'Dwyer, Brendan, 2017. "Accounting, non-governmental organizations and civil society: The importance of nonprofit organizations to understanding accounting, organizations and society," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-5.
    5. Gernot Grabher & Erwin van Tuijl, 2020. "Uber-production: From global networks to digital platforms," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 52(5), pages 1005-1016, August.
    6. Pflueger, Dane & Palermo, Tommaso & Martinez, Daniel, 2019. "Thinking infrastructure and the organization of markets: the creation of a legal market for cannabis in Colorado," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 91412, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Andrew, Jane & Baker, Max, 2020. "The radical potential of leaks in the shadow accounting project: The case of US oil interests in Nigeria," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 82(C).
    8. Freida Ozavize Ayodele & Liu Yao & Hasnah Binti Haron & Eyasan Leslie Dabor, 2019. "Knowledge Management and Institutional Accounting Functional Effectiveness: Evidence from Malaysia," Journal of Information & Knowledge Management (JIKM), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 18(02), pages 1-27, June.
    9. Leoni, Giulia & Parker, Lee D., 2019. "Governance and control of sharing economy platforms: Hosting on Airbnb," The British Accounting Review, Elsevier, vol. 51(6).
    10. Silva, Ana Teresa & Moro, Sérgio & Rita, Paulo & Cortez, Paulo, 2018. "Unveiling the features of successful eBay smartphone sellers," Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 311-324.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Kornberger Martin & Pflueger Dane & Mouritsen Jan, 2017. "Evaluative infrastructures : Accounting for platform organization," Post-Print hal-02276737, HAL.
    2. Pflueger, Dane, 2016. "Knowing patients: The customer survey and the changing margins of accounting in healthcare," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 17-33.
    3. Robson, Keith & Bottausci, Chiara, 2018. "The sociology of translation and accounting inscriptions: Reflections on Latour and Accounting Research," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 60-75.
    4. Power, Michael, 2015. "How accounting begins: Object formation and the accretion of infrastructure," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 43-55.
    5. Miller, Peter & Kurunmäki, Liisa & O'Leary, Ted, 2008. "Accounting, hybrids and the management of risk," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 33(7-8), pages 942-967.
    6. Mahama, Habib & Chua, Wai Fong, 2016. "A study of alliance dynamics, accounting and trust-as-practice," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 29-46.
    7. Arena, Marika & Arnaboldi, Michela & Palermo, Tommaso, 2017. "The dynamics of (dis)integrated risk management: a comparative field study," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 84285, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Cooper, Christine, 2015. "Entrepreneurs of the self: The development of management control since 1976," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 14-24.
    9. Power, Michael, 2019. "Modelling the microfoundations of the audit society: organizations and the logic of the audit trail," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 100243, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    10. Huikku, Jari & Mouritsen, Jan & Silvola, Hanna, 2017. "Relative reliability and the recognisable firm: Calculating goodwill impairment value," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 68-83.
    11. Bigoni, Michele & Funnell, Warwick, 2015. "Ancestors of governmentality: Accounting and pastoral power in the 15th century," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 160-176.
    12. Pollock, Neil & D’Adderio, Luciana, 2012. "Give me a two-by-two matrix and I will create the market: Rankings, graphic visualisations and sociomateriality," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 37(8), pages 565-586.
    13. Baxter, Jane & Carlsson-Wall, Martin & Chua, Wai Fong & Kraus, Kalle, 2019. "Accounting and passionate interests: The case of a Swedish football club," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 21-40.
    14. Himick, Darlene, 2011. "Relative performance evaluation and pension investment management: A challenge for ESG investing," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 158-171.
    15. Martinez, Daniel E. & Cooper, David J., 2019. "Assembling performance measurement through engagement," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    16. Barker, Richard & Schulte, Sebastian, 2017. "Representing the market perspective: Fair value measurement for non-financial assets," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 55-67.
    17. Constable, Philip & Kuasirikun, Nooch, 2020. "From cosmological to commercial form: A Buddhist theory of ‘form’, ‘space’ and ‘stream of re-becoming’ in mid-19th century Thai accounting," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    18. Bay, Charlotta, 2018. "Makeover accounting: Investigating the meaning-making practices of financial accounts," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 44-54.
    19. Boedker, Christina & Chong, Kar-Ming & Mouritsen, Jan, 2020. "The counter-performativity of calculative practices: Mobilising rankings of intellectual capital," CRITICAL PERSPECTIVES ON ACCOUNTING, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    20. Thomson, Ian & Grubnic, Suzana & Georgakopoulos, Georgios, 2014. "Exploring accounting-sustainability hybridisation in the UK public sector," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 39(6), pages 453-476.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:aosoci:v:60:y:2017:i:c:p:79-95. 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: (Haili He). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/aos .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.