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Accounting for the city

Listed author(s):
  • Irvine Lapsley

Purpose - This paper aims to identify the study of cities as an important and neglected focus for accounting researchers. Design/methodology/approach - The paper is based on a case study approach to visualizing and calculating the city. Findings - There is a major preoccupation with the study of cities from numerous disciplinary perspectives. The positioning of cities is reaffirmed as a key part of modes of governing. This reveals tensions between disciplinary approaches based on space and design with the financial imperative of cities managed within a world which is dominated by New Public Management ideas and in which finances have primacy. Research limitations/implications - The paper is based on one case study, and it demonstrates the need for longitudinal and interdisciplinary approaches to increase understanding of the twenty-first century city. Practical implications - The significance of accounting as a technology, which is embedded within the public management of cities is profound. This has major implications both for the design of financial information systems and their capacity for, and the manner of, their interactions with other disciplines in planning and managing cities. Originality/value - This study is distinct in the manner in which it studies and reveals the importance of accounting in the management of cities. There is an increasing trend to visualize the city and represent it in numbers. This study reveals that accounting provides the most important numbers in shaping and visualizing the city.

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Article provided by Emerald Group Publishing in its journal Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal.

Volume (Year): 23 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 305-324

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Handle: RePEc:eme:aaajpp:v:23:y:2010:i:3:p:305-324
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References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Martin Kornberger, 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. Antti Rautiainen, 2010. "Contending legitimations: Performance measurement coupling and decoupling in two Finnish cities," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 373-391, March.
  3. Hoornweg, Daniel & Ruiz Nunez, Fernanda & Freire, Mila & Palugyai, Natalie & Villaveces, Maria & Herrera, Eduardo Wills, 2007. "City indicators : now to Nanjing," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4114, The World Bank.
  4. Ivan Turok, 2008. "A New Policy for Britain's Cities: Choices, Challenges, Contradictions," Local Economy, London South Bank University, vol. 23(2), pages 149-166, May.
  5. Michela Arnaboldi & Irvine Lapsley, 2008. "Making Management Auditable: The Implementation of Best Value in Local Government," Abacus, Accounting Foundation, University of Sydney, vol. 44(1), pages 22-47.
  6. Michela Arnaboldi, 2010. "Asset management in cities: polyphony in action?," Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 392-419, March.
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