Accounting Values, Controversies, and Compromises in Tests of Worth

Marcia Annisette, Gillian Vesty & Thierry Amslem (2017)

In Charlotte Cloutier, Jean-Pascal Gond & Bernard Leca (ed.), Justification, Evaluation and Critique in the Study of Organizations (Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Volume 52) Emerald Publishing Limited, pp.209 – 239.

Abstract. This article will consider the various ways in which accounting can be conceptualized within Boltanski and Thévenot’s economies of worth theoretic. Drawing on two case illustrations, a not-for-profit welfare agency and a government-owned water utility, we follow the unfolding of disputes and the variety of outcomes in which accounting is implicated. We illustrate the role of accounting in justificatory actions and the ways in which it “holds things together” in compromise arrangements. We also illustrate the situations which challenge the “test” of worth and the innovative accounting responses that either facilitate coordination and agreement or become controversial and be the object of organizational and institutional dispute.

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