Strategising management accounting: liberal origins and neoliberal trends

Alawattage, C. and Wickramasinghe, D. (2022) Strategising management accounting: liberal origins and neoliberal trends. Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, 35(2), pp. 518-546. (doi: 10.1108/AAAJ-01-2021-5124)

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Purpose: This paper draws on the concepts of biopolitics and neoliberal governmentality to provide a sociological analysis of the strategic turn in management accounting. Design/methodology/approach: This conceptual and review paper addresses four interrelated questions: How can the early history of management accounting be revisited from a biopolitical angle? How has strategising been linked to the neoliberal evolution of capitalism? How has this neoliberal connection transformed management accounting into its new form of strategising? What are the implications of this transformation for future research and pedagogical practices in management accounting? Findings: Management accounting is strategised in four interrelated directions: by absorbing the jurisdictional and veridictional roles of the market into the calculative practices of management accounting; by transforming management accounting's centripetal hierarchical order of calculations to a centrifugal order the neoliberal governmentality demanded; by re-calculating the point of production as a site in which labour now takes the form of entrepreneurs of the self, performing not only material but also immaterial elements of managerial labour; and by rescoping management accounting to address issues the “fourth or the global age of security” brought, including the social and the environmental ones. Research limitations/implications: The research expands the existing frames of reference for exploring contemporary calculative practices in neoliberal governmentality. Social implications: Strategic turn in management accounting implicates in issues of security, governance and ethics and offers “new opportunities” for expanding management accounting's relevance beyond economic enterprises to various civil society and political constituencies. Originality/value: This paper makes a theoretical contribution to management accounting's contemporary developments by demonstrating how it moves into biopolitical circulation.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Wickramasinghe, Professor Danture and Alawattage, Professor Chandana
Authors: Alawattage, C., and Wickramasinghe, D.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Journal Name:Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
ISSN (Online):1758-4205
Published Online:27 August 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Emerald Publishing Limited
First Published:First published in Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal 35(2): 518-546
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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