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Accounting numbers as "inscription": action at a distance and the development of accounting

Robson, Keith 1992. Accounting numbers as "inscription": action at a distance and the development of accounting. Accounting Organizations and Society 17 (7) , pp. 685-708. 10.1016/0361-3682(92)90019-O

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Abstract

The numerical form of accounting has been interpreted as a use of metaphor (Morgan, Accounting, Organizations and Society, pp. 447–486, 1988). The dominance of quantification in accounting has also, more conventionally, been legitimated by claims to the representational accuracy of numbers and a model of scientific theory and practice (Mattessich, Accounting and Analytical Methods, Irwin, 1962; Chambers, Accounting Evaluation and Economic Behaviour, Prentice-Hall, 1966; Accounting, Organizations and Society, pp. 167–180, 1980). In this paper the preference for quantification in accounting is explained alternatively in terms of the development of inscriptions that enable action at a distance (Latour, Science in Action, Open University Press, 1987). The development of accounting is considered in terms of a continuing refinement of mobile, stable and combinable inscriptions that expedite long distance control. The paper concludes that studies of accounting metaphor are incomplete if they cannot address the processes that adjudicate the choices and production of metaphor.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 0361-3682
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2017 04:24
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/52048

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