Coping with Excess

Coping with Excess

How Organizations, Communities and Individuals Manage Overflows

Edited by Barbara Czarniawska and Orvar Löfgren

What does a stockbroker in Istanbul navigating the rush of incoming trading figures have in common with a mother in Stockholm trying to organize a growing pile of baby clothes? They are both coping with excess or overflow. This book explores the ways in which institutions, corporations and individuals define and manage situations of ‘too much’ – too much information, too many choices, too many commodities or too many tasks.

Chapter 4: Help! We have too much money!

Barbara Czarniawska, Pierre Donatella and Rolf Solli

Subjects: business and management, critical management studies, organisation studies, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory

Extract

It is commonly assumed that economic organizations strive to accumulate as many resources as possible. Private companies aim at maximizing profits, and public administrations and other non-profit organizations attempt to acquire an adequate basis for performing their statutory activities. Yet at some time (generally at the end of the budgetary year) they all encounter the problem of having accumulated too much. They may be concerned about having to pay too much tax or, to the contrary, of being accused of collecting too much money from taxes paid or of not using their donations and grants before their year end. How do they manage their overflow? This chapter attempts to answer this question in relation to the public sector of one country – Sweden – and suggests that definitions of overflow and ways of framing it may be locally and culturally determined, and time-related. The phenomenon of earnings management is well known in Western economies (see, for example, Healy and Wahlen, 1999; Libby and Seybert, 2009; Dechow et al., 2010) and exists even in the financially prudent Swedish economy. A series of Master’s theses from Uppsala and Lund illustrates this problem, but from a macro perspective (Backlund and Dahlöf, 2006; Weich and Pietilä, 2008; Andersson, 2009; Hermasson and Olofsson, 2009; Wall and Wiik, 2010; Bergmark and Gårdenberg, 2011). Earnings management is a sensitive issue, and it would be difficult to obtain direct access to accounting practices used for that purpose in private companies.

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