انتقاد از سرمایه داری، بودجه بندی و ثبت نام دوگانه: شعارهای کنترل بودجه و اصلاحات اجتماعی در فرانسه در دهه های1930 و 1950
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|8588||2009||30 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting, Organizations and Society, Volume 34, Issue 1, January 2009, Pages 28–57
This article is a contribution to the study of the spread of management innovations, methods and rhetorics. It particularly concerns the influence of ideological and political factors, which have so far mostly escaped in-depth study. In particular, we seek to understand to what extent a critique of society developed by social reformers can be a source of inspiration for managers, leading them to change their practices and experiment with new devices. Relying on the framework of historical change in management practices developed by Boltanski and Chiapello [Boltanski, L., & Chiapello, E. (2005). The new spirit of capitalism. London: Verso (Translation of Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme, Paris: Gallimard, 1999)], we study the specific development of budgetary control in France, examined in the light of the general political and economic history of the 20th century. This framework simultaneously encompasses the dissemination of a new accounting practice, the transformation of capitalist institutions and mo des of regulation in a given period and country, and the programmatic discourses [Miller, P., & Rose, N. (1990). Governing economic life. Economy and Society, 19(1), 1–31] associated with the historical move.
More exactly, what interests us is a double enrolment process. The business world promoters of budgetary control use the rhetorics of social reformers to present budgetary control as a solution to the economic and social problems of their time; conversely, social reformers promote budgetary control as a realistic, efficient tool that can change the world. Ultimately, a degree of alliance is possible around this management tool, although the extent to which the meanings each group attributes to its action are shared may remain unclear. Based on an analysis of the writings of budgetary control promoters of the 1930s and the 1950s, we show the close links between their discourse and the reforming ideas of their time, and how we can trace through this corpus the evolution of this kind of political rationalities [Miller, P., & Rose, N. (1990). Governing economic life. Economy and Society, 19(1), 1–31] associated with governing and managing corporations we call the spirit of capitalism [Boltanski, L., & Chiapello, E. (2005). The new spirit of capitalism. London: Verso (Translation of Le nouvel esprit du capitalisme, Paris: Gallimard, 1999)]. Accounting change and accounting innovation have become major themes for accounting research in recent years (Bjørnenak, 1997, Burns and Scapens, 2000, Chua, 1995 and Jones and Dugdale, 2002). Sociologically based research in management accounting using Foucauldian, Latourian or New Institutionalism approaches has been widely referred to in accounts of these changes (Baxter & Chua, 2003). We adopt a sociological perspective in this paper, studying the double enrolment of social reformers’ rhetorics and accounting innovations. Our work aims to answer three fundamental research questions: Where do management innovation and management rhetorics come from? How is it that certain rhetorics spread at certain times? How can we explain the changes over time in management discourses? This article proposes a theoretical framework and tests it against some parts of the history of budgetary control. The originality of our approach lies in the emphasis placed on the role of social reformers and the dynamics of capitalism. We argue that capitalism may in certain circumstances, incorporate the critiques of the social reformers in order to regenerate. We use the term social reformers for actors in society who, upon encountering economic or social phenomena they deem regrettable or maybe even highly dangerous, simultaneously produce a critique of society, a diagnosis of the risks it is running, and proposals for reforms, regardless of whether these reforms are considered realistic or utopian. The reformers who become influential and whose opinions are listened to are rarely lone crusaders; generally they are part of a social movement, attend meetings of clubs or societies, organise conferences and courses to popularise their ideas, and have followers and propagators. A characteristic feature of such reformers – who can be seen as conveyors of political rationalities and programmes and as promoters of specific technologies (Rose & Miller, 1992) – in this case budgetary control – is that they are not necessarily in a position of power at the beginning of the reform process. Often critical of the dominant groups and public policies of their time, they tend to position themselves as forces for opposition and/or proposals. But their ideas may be adopted by businesses or states, usually in order to overcome a difficult crisis. Their rhetoric thus finds itself transported to the very heart of the system against which it was produced, and their proposals put into practice. Their reflection gives birth to ideas for new devices, and brings about invention of new management practices or tools which avant-garde managers then experiment with. In this process of incorporation of criticism into the capitalist organisation, some members of the reforming social movements may gain access to positions of power, but ideas spread far beyond the actual actions of these social reformers, as the reforming proposals are also taken on board by avant-garde managers who are followed by a wide range of people. We argue that the dynamic process of capitalism’s incorporation of a critique is brought into operation by business managers who decide to change their practices based on the criticisms received and any associated recommendations, or political leaders who use the law or various specially created or reformed institutions to change the regulations governing business practices. The first steps taken by companies when incorporating a critique are typically taken by avant-garde managers who are interested in the ideas tossed around in reforming circles and may even themselves be part of those circles. It is often these managers’ experiences that are later recounted, presented as examples, debated and imitated when the diffusion process is set in motion. This process will ultimately result in a morphological transformation of capitalism, enabling it to continue while simultaneously self-regenerating. Such links between technologies and programmes have already been highlighted in research by Miller and O’Leary, 1987, Miller and O’Leary, 1989, Miller and O’Leary, 1994, Miller and Rose, 1990, Miller, 1990 and Rose and Miller, 1992. We add to this existing work a reflective analysis of the origins of political rationalities and programmes of government, and the way in which they are constructed. We aim to show that some of these ideas, which subsequently became very widespread, originated in the currents of criticisms of capitalism.. The case of budgetary control itself has never before been studied from this angle. Our article is based on an analysis of the discourses promoting budgetary control in France from the 1930s to the 1950s, based on two corpuses of texts. We concentrate on the ideas that surrounded declarations made about budgetary control, putting it into perspective in relation to economic and social problems at a national level, or considering it in relation to moral imperatives for the transformation of society. These discussions provide an insight into the ideological environment of the promoters of budgetary control. From the late 1920s to the 1960s a group of accounting techniques developed in France, based on a complex of practices rooted in scientific management. Budgetary control is one of its tools, and developed alongside standard costing. “Budgetary control” presupposes: (1) the existence of a “budget”, i.e. a set of forecast figures expressed in accounting language, covering the whole of the company’s activity, and (2) the production of reports comparing the forecasts with what actually happened. Although standard costing can be a help in preparing forecasts – and is often discussed in the same writings as budgetary control, and attributed the same kind of socio-political advantages – both techniques developed in a loosely coupled relationship. The progress in France of these two innovations, which “render visible the inefficiencies” (Miller & O’Leary, 1987, p. 241) differed: while budgetary control drifted fairly rapidly from discourse to practice, the drift was slower for standard costing.1 The reason for going into no further detail regarding the characteristics of budgetary control,2 is because its history is also the history of the debates over the “right way” to use it, which are themselves indissociable from the various “functions” attributed to the tool (Berland, 1999b, Burchell et al., 1980, Ezzamel, 1994, Hopwood, 1978, Hopwood, 1983 and Preston et al., 1992). We shall see that the meaning attributed to budgetary control changes through the period studied. Our work focuses on programmatic aspirations conferred on budgetary control, that is on management discourses and not on management practices as deployed within firms. However, particularly when a rhetoric accompanies the spread of a new management technique, we suggest that the study of discourses provides some information on changes in practices. In so far as discourses cognitively frame actors’ interpretations of a management tool or practice, and in doing so they transform the practice itself, making it conform further to the predominant interpretation. This echoes the theories of Burchell et al. (1980), who showed the disconnection between the publicly stated roles of accounting and the practice of accounting, but also the importance of official roles in changing practices, accounting being “challenged and changed in the name of the roles it is seen as serving” (Burchell et al., 1980, p. 10). The first part of this article is devoted to a presentation of our framework, together with a brief explanation of our working method. The second part will show how discussions of budgetary control were involved in the debate on social issues in the 1930s and 1950s, and how the idea of budgetary control changed between the two periods, in keeping with changes in this debate. The third part then further explores the productiveness of the theoretical framework put forward in The New Spirit of Capitalism (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2005), in order to understand the evolution of business organisations between 1929 and 1960, as seen through the history of budgetary control. While the second section contains a point-by-point comparison of the ideas put forward by the reformers and the budgetary control promoters, the third section aims to describe the dynamics of the change in the representations.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This article has tested a certain number of hypotheses on the relationships between the dissemination of a management technique and the reforming ideologies of a period, in continuation of the work by Miller and O’Leary, 1987, Miller and O’Leary, 1989, Miller and O’Leary, 1994, Miller and Rose, 1990, Miller, 1990 and Rose and Miller, 1992 who discuss the relationships between political rationalities and governmental technologies. These relationships are placed here in a dialectic schema of transformation of the ideologies that accompany capitalism (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2005), which attributes an important role to the critical discourses on capitalism and the work of social reformers to change it. The framework for change in society is based on the sequence: (1) crisis, (2) criticism of capitalism-reform proposals, (3) incorporation of those proposals and transformation of capitalism. In the case under examination, budgetary control was promoted as a solution, which – generalised to all companies and associated with suitable national economic policies – would be able to discipline capitalism and bring about both security for workers and a merit-based form of fairness in the workplace. This formula, which lies at the core of justifications specific to the second spirit of capitalism (Boltanski & Chiapello, 2005) gained resonance in people’s minds as the models of society recommended by 1930s reforming think-tanks were increasingly accepted, and practices evolved accordingly (intensive training in management technologies imported from the US after 1945, dissemination of budgetary control practices, reform of structures at State level, etc). This consubstantiality of budgetary control and the mentality typical of the second spirit of capitalism also explains why it was so easy to observe the double enrolment process: the tool was adopted by reforming currents as a solution to the problems of their time, and the reforming discourses were used for its promotion. We were able to describe this enrolment at different levels: first, we saw that certain major think tanks had taken the lead in publications on budgetary control, and that the principal promoters of budgetary control were themselves members of these reforming groups. We also showed that not only did the writings promoting this management technique tend to present budgetary control as a solution to the economic, social and moral troubles under debate in reforming circles, but often there was a rhetorical background consisting of the models of society or organisations recommended by the main reforming currents (at least, by those that historians have taught us to consider as pioneering arenas in the search out for a third way between economic liberalism and State socialism, and where the policies implemented first by Vichy, then by the Keynesian postwar state, were devised). As the material we have worked on for this study consists mainly of public discourses, we have been unable to demonstrate directly the influence of these discourses on the practices and mentality of anonymous practitioners; at best, we can hypothesize. The first change in practice is the increasingly widespread adoption of budgetary control by firms over the period, which we know from other work was a real observed phenomenon. This spread took place in a context of high mobilisation for reforming projects, although we have no way of knowing whether the technique would in fact have spread without this mobilisation, by dint of its own efficiency or other factors, such as power struggles. Nevertheless, the theoretical analysis frameworks we use tend to take discursive activity seriously, and consider that it plays at least a cognitive role (influencing actors’ modes of interpretation) and a political role (legitimising certain forms of order to the detriment of others). For this reason we can also hypothesize that the practice of budgetary control itself changed with the shift in its definition from a rationalization tool to a motivation tool. Longitudinal case studies on budgetary control practices and devices and their evolution in various firms could provide information on the way political discourses are translated (or not translated) into the particular human/nonhuman arrangements studied (Latour, 1987). We hypothesize that beyond the singularity of the situations studied, it would be possible to find similarities between the arrangements of a given period as long as the situations studied belong to the same institutional configuration, i.e. are fairly closely linked by devices and networks that produce and reproduce it and which are inextricably technical, political, cognitive and moral. This study asks the question of the uneven importance of various tools, according to the institutional features of capitalism at a given time and in a given place. Some tools, such as budgetary control, appear to “sign” the mentality of a period better than others. This remark is akin to the work of Bryer, 2000a and Bryer, 2000b highlighting the existence of an accounting signature that evolves with certain states of the economic system, and also the work by Lordon (2000) on the eminent role currently played by “shareholder value” and its various measurement instruments in today’s regulation of capitalism. According to our own analysis framework, certain management instruments are more important than others, because they equip the trials a society deems central at a given moment ( Boltanski and Chiapello, 2005 and Bourguignon and Chiapello, 2005). The way they organise these trials is a sign of the preoccupations that engendered the tool, and of specific points of interest in the criticism, which tends to focus on certain problems that vary with the period, as well as a set of particular values and representations – in other words, a mentality. It can be hypothesised that the more central a management tool is, the more its establishment has involved intense discursive activity and an enrolment of socio-political rhetoric going beyond arguments of economic effectiveness alone, and the more it has taken place under the influence of a systemic transformation of the economic system. These considerations also make it possible to understand the close interdependence between the concept of a practice (or the definition of a management tool) and the most predominant social and economic political rationalities of a period. In the case of budgetary control, we have seen how it was loaded with changing programmatic aspirations, gradually becoming a tool for increasing responsibility and motivation, having started as a project marked by a desire to rationalise. Various frameworks now exist to analyse the varying forms of capitalisms existing in different countries at a given time, or at different times in the same country (see for example Boyer, 2002, Crouch and Streeck, 1996 and Hall and Soskice, 2001). On the whole, however, these analyses tend to ignore both the world of ideas (although they study and compare the institutions, they tend to neglect ideologies as social institutions) and the role of governmental technologies. Some accounting research is itself inspired by these frameworks, e.g. Puxty, Willmott, Cooper, and Lowe (1987), but not much has examined the institutional role of accounting devices in specific economic configurations. This article has attempted to show that it is possible to extend analyses of different types of capitalism into analyses concerning the movement of political ideas, and that accounting practices could also find a place in such a research programme