Online from: 1988
Subject Area: Accounting and Finance
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|Title:||Ostensive versus performative approaches for theorising accounting-strategy research|
|Author(s):||Christina Boedker, (School of Accounting, Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales, Kensington, Australia)|
|Citation:||Christina Boedker, (2010) "Ostensive versus performative approaches for theorising accounting-strategy research", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 23 Iss: 5, pp.595 - 625|
|Keywords:||Accounting, Financial management, Research|
|Article type:||Conceptual paper|
|DOI:||10.1108/09513571011054909 (Permanent URL)|
|Publisher:||Emerald Group Publishing Limited|
|Acknowledgements:||The author would like to thank Wai Fong Chua, Jan Mouritsen and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback and comments on this paper. This paper is from her doctoral thesis entitled “Local players and global strategies: the transformative effects of accounting in strategising”, which won the 2009 Emerald/EFMD Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in the Interdisciplinary Accounting Research category, nominated by the Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal.|
Purpose – This paper seeks to inquire into the theoretical assumptions that underpin much accounting-strategy research and to develop an alternative way to approach such study.
Design/methodology/approach – Two theoretical lenses are discussed and contrasted. These are the ostensive and performative lenses.
Findings – Hitherto, most accounting-strategy research has drawn on an ostensive lens, whilst only a few approach research from a performative perspective. Whilst the ostensive approach is beneficial and reduces the complexity and messiness of research sites, it also assumes that stability, orderliness and predictability characterise social life (e.g. strategy is “ready made” and remains constant during implementation). Furthermore, in this approach, accounting assumes a subordinate role and its main aim is to ensure “correct” implementation of predefined intents. This limits accounting to being an output of strategy, as opposed to, for example, an input and transformer. Greater diversity of definitions and new investigative approaches are needed. To this end, and as a key contribution, the paper develops an alternative approach drawing on Latour's performative theory. This proposes that strategy and accounting are somewhat fragile, even unstable, objects, which change depending on the hands through which they travel and the network within which they are located. Furthermore, accounting is not merely designed to follow or implement predefined intents. It is also a catalyst of expansion, transformation, even surprise.
Research limitations/implications – The paper does not offer primary data.
Originality/value – The paper offers to scholars the possibility of studying accounting-strategy as “relations” rather than “objects”, illustrates how this may be done, and proposes research questions to this end. It identifies a space of inquiry that needs further attention and that can provide new insights into the accounting-strategy relationship.
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