Accounting in the field of governance
Abstract: Corporate governance phenomena have traditionally been, and are still, studied foremost as relationships between principals and agents. Studies of how accounting plays out in corporate governance settings rather share the interest in hierarchical influence than challenge it. The present thesis argues that when studying accounting in corporate governance settings we must, in addition to studying hierarchical influence, take into account the ‘field of governance’ in which accounting is situated. The hierarchical influence with which the corporate governance literature is concerned does not occur in an isolated setting, but in a field with pre-existing, concurrent and entering governance initiatives, technologies and actors. Such aspects of the field of governance necessarily influence how accounting is able to serve corporate governance ends.Based on two empirical cases, institutional investors and trade unions, active in a field of governance concerned with social and environmental aspects of corporate performance, this thesis consists of four studies investigating the different aspects (who, what and where) of the field of governance and the influence these aspects have on accounting in a corporate governance setting. This thesis, as a result, proposes a new way to study accounting in corporate governance settings and identifies further conditions for accounting’s constitutive ability.
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