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Accounting and management - labour relations: the politics of production in the 'factory with a problem'

Ezzamel, Mahmoud, Willmott, Hugh and Worthington, Frank 2004. Accounting and management - labour relations: the politics of production in the 'factory with a problem'. Accounting Organizations and Society 29 (3-4) , pp. 269-302. 10.1016/S0361-3682(03)00014-X

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Abstract

This paper examines the role of accounting in management–labour relations within the context of contemporary moves to re-conceptualise and reorganise manufacturing processes. We explore how new manufacturing and accounting discourses are received by employees, and how their (more or less accommodating) responses to such initiatives shape the trajectory of their introduction. So doing we show why a more adequate understanding of accounting's presence and significance in the workplace does not simply require a little more attention to the politics of the production process but, rather, its positioning at the centre of analysis. We develop our argument by drawing on material collected from an intensive and longitudinal case study of a manufacturing plant of a large multinational company based upon participant observation and extensive interviews. We show how, following shifts in market conditions and company ownership, pressures to enhance productivity and improve profits led to several attempts by senior management at the plant to introduce change initiatives in production methods, management style, and accounting techniques. We demonstrate how shopfloor workers interpreted these initiatives as intensifying labour by reducing head count, leading them to resist these initiatives over a period of 13 years. We argue that during this period the rhetoric of corporate governance was mediated by workers’ ability to create a space through which their own interests were defined, articulated and brought to bear on the discourses and rationalities advanced by senior management in support of ‘new’ accounting (and management) techniques. By appreciating the presence and significance of labour in the politics of production, additional ways of accounting for the rise and demise of ‘new’ or ‘excellent’ accounting techniques are contemplated.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0361-3682
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 01:48
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/2811

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