A Research Agenda for Management and Organization Studies
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A Research Agenda for Management and Organization Studies

Edited by Barbara Czarniawska

Managing and organizing are now central phenomena in contemporary societies. It is essential they are studied from a variety of perspectives, and with equal attention paid to their past, their present, and their future. This book collects opinions of the trailblazing scholars concerning the most important research topics, essential for study in the next 15–20 years. The opinions concern both traditional functions, such as accounting and marketing, personnel management and strategy, technology and communication, but also new challenges, such as diversity, equality, waste and cultural encounters. The collection is intended to be inspiration for young scholars and an invitation to a dialogue with practitioners.
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Chapter 2: In search of what accounting is not: speculations on the future of valuing, transparency and a new aesth-etics for governing capitalism and democracy

Paolo Quattrone


It was back in 1985 when Anthony Hopwood, studying the intertwining of accounting and the social, demonstrated the importance of a historical approach for understanding how ‘accounting had become what it is now’ (Hopwood, 1985: 365). His call for a positive knowledge about the processes of accounting change must have sounded odd to the ears of those (mainly Anglo-American academics, I must add) who believed that accounting was a simple and neutral technique for profit measurement and managerial control. For them, accounting was contextless: an instrument of value measurement designed to serve shareholders’ interests on a trajectory towards greater transparency and accuracy of representation. So unusual was this call that in 1987 Hopwood had to reiterate it – this time in negative terms – when he stated that accounting ‘has the tendency to become what it was not’ (Hopwood, 1987: 207). Thinking of accounting in terms of what it is not was a revolutionary approach. It is on this turn towards what I label negativism that this chapter draws upon an image of what the future of accounting studies could look like, to envision the crossroads that academics and practitioners may be required to take in the next few years.

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