Accounting, Stock Markets and Everyday Life

University dissertation from Uppsala : Företagsekonomiska institutionen

Abstract: The backdrop of this dissertation is one ubiquitous element of everyday life: the stock market. Traditionally, accounting and stock markets are logically coordinate entities and this thesis analyzes how accounting supports private investors in their role as shareholders – as investors in shares and owners of companies. This analysis is carried out in four independent essays. The first two essays analyze the privatization of Telia, a former state-owned Telecommunication Company in Sweden that went public in 2000. The field material for the two essays consisted of newspaper articles, government bills and interviews. Qualitative and quantitative analyses demonstrate how accounting is used among different actors to realize the privatization. Theoretically, the first two essays lend themselves to the governmentality debate as introduced to accounting research by Miller and Rose (1990). The third and fourth essays are analyses of annual general meetings (AGMs). The field material was generated from a study of participants at 36 AGMs during the spring of 2004.The choice of these two seemingly unrelated cases was done deliberately. Both cases are stock market events that typically involve an audience of a large number of non-professional investors. In the privatization of Telia over 1 million people took part in the offer. The AGMs are typically seen as the single event by which non-professional investors have an opportunity to meet with top management. Thus, each event represents an instance in which accounting is confronted by a predominantly non-professional audience.The contribution of this study is two-fold. First, earlier work inspired by the Miller and Rose framework (1990) has favored an analysis of the programmatic. This study develops the technological aspect of the theoretical framework by means of a rich empirical description. In addition the two essays on the privatization of Telia contribute with an analysis of how once a specific technology translates to become and becomes understood at the site of intervention. Second, the two studies of AGMs contest earlier criticism against the meeting as a corporate governance mechanism detached from the overall corporate governance system. The argument here is that the AGM offers a valuable setting for private investors to discuss stewardship issues. That this opportunity is taken advantage of is suggested by the present field material.