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Controlling innovation, innovating control. Accounting for innovation in the field of university-industry interrelations in the UK

Casarin, Veronica 2016. Controlling innovation, innovating control. Accounting for innovation in the field of university-industry interrelations in the UK. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Abstract

The thesis examines the role of accounting in configuring innovation as the driver of economic progress in modern Britain. Set against a context of changing governmental rationalities and greater attention of economic theory upon issues of R&D productivity, University-Industry interrelations have come to represent, since the 1980s, a laboratory where British government has experimented with programmes for both promoting and decentralising innovation, while maintaining at a distance control through mandated calculations and calculative devices.The thesis brings accounting into the discussion of how private and public agencies of governance steer innovation by exploring the paradoxical phrase: “controlling innovation, innovating control”. The phrase questions the extent to which accounting discipline and practices have changed in order to keep pace with the progressive economic and social agenda of innovation. By means of an in-depth study of accounting practices, corroborated by forty semi-structured interviews, the thesis explores the action of controlling innovation across three main sites where university-industry interrelations are enacted, namely technology transfer, technology incubation, and corporate R&D. Drawing on the concept of socio-technical agencement (Callon 2005) the thesis seeks to identify and analyse the economic agencies that configure and assemble innovation as an actor capable of influencing government policies, corporate strategies, and universities’ mission. The thesis shows that controlling innovation involves calculative action that is mainly distributed across accounting devices (e.g. Discounted Cash Flow, R&D budget, and input-output performance indicators), non-accounting devices, and human entities. Drawing on, and expanding, the work of Beunza & Garud (2007) on calculative frames, the thesis finds patterns of regularity occurring in the mechanisms through which economic action within innovation is organized and distributed. The thesis also accounts for the tensions arising in the negotiation of different versions of the value of innovation. Finally, while controlling innovation is performed through a variety of accounting devices, the thesis shows that such devices are not new to the accounting discipline and practice, but rather are traditional accounting tools that adapted to the innovation rationale in virtue of their fluid and combinable properties.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Publication
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HG Finance
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 July 2016
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2017 05:22
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/92517

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