حسابداری، مدیریت عمومی جدید و سیاستهای آمریکایی: دیدگاه های تئوریک درباره بررسی عملکرد ملی
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 18, Issue 1, January 2007, Pages 33–58
Borrowing from the work of political theorists Sheldon Wolin and William Connolly, this essay seeks to provide additional rationalization for the expansion of accounting within domains like the public sector. We suggest that such an expansion is intimately linked to social and cultural transitions which have led political theorists to not only question modern political theory but to also recognize the political significance of practices like accounting to political theory. We contend that these same transitions also make possible expansions of accounting through New Public Management (NPM) initiatives like the U.S.'s National Performance Review (NPR). Seen in this way, accounting theory begins to move away from its traditional status as, in Foucault's (1995) terms, a “subjugated” knowledge and to take on a serious intellectual priority within political theory. A primary objective is to provide at least a partial rational-analytic typos useful in understanding the codetermined relationship between accounting and politics.
To point out the increasing ubiquity of accounting and auditing is certainly nothing new. Power's (1997) notion of “the audit society” explains as much, as does the expansion of accounting techniques and rationales in public domains like the government. Indeed, moral philosophers have shown concern with how core questions of human identity should be grounded in a moral ontology of economic accountability (see MacIntyre, 1984, Schweiker, 1993 and Smith, 1988). Keith Hoskin succinctly captures accounting's new-found salience when he speaks of: … the extraordinary power that accounting holds in the modern world; first as an economic practice at the heart of everyday business management and in the global requirements of financial reporting and analysis, but also beyond these traditional spheres. For accounting now increasingly penetrates into the public sector where old-style bureaucrats are remade as executives subject to accounting measurement. … Indeed, accounting even arguably penetrates within the self, as individuals discover that from birth to death they are now accountable, known and evaluated through their financial and non-financial performance figures (1994, pp. 57–58). The public sector is perhaps the most visible domain in which accounting's expansion has been studied. Accounting is seen within this domain as an integral component of what is now termed “New Public Management” (NPM). This essay explores a rather modest and quite partial hypothesis that may help explain the ubiquity of accounting in the public sector as a consequence of certain transitions in politics and political theory. Those transitions have shaken some of the more taken-for-granted beliefs and assumptions that have both informed political theory and made the “subjugation” of accounting discourse rather simple and straightforward.2 In this sense, we share with those like Miller and Rose (1990) suspicions about the adequacy of modern conceptions of state-centered political theory and its corollary annulment of the power of discourses like accounting to constitute political life. Unlike Miller and Rose, we adopt a rationalistic rather than genealogical style of inquiry into the increased ubiquity and political power of accounting. This essay seeks to add to our understanding of the variety of NPM initiatives that have developed globally by focusing upon the “National Performance Review” (NPR), a U.S. manifestation of NPM. NPR consists of a range of projects and proposals, all of them deeply dependent upon accounting and other managerial techniques adapted from the private sector. Our interest is not in judging the “success” or “failure” of NPR as an exercise in governmental reform. Reform programmes like these are much too multidimensional and complex to lend themselves to parsimonious claims about their “success” (see March and Olson, 1983). Our concern is to suggest ways in which NPR, and accounting's place within it, is a piece of contemporary American experience that mirrors several ideas and claims within contemporary political theory that have clear relevance to our theoretical understanding of accounting.3 A primary objective is to contribute to the global examples of NPM and to enhance our understanding of its continued implementation. In the first section of this essay, we provide a brief explanation of NPM as well as a few accounting studies within its context. This broad discussion of NPM provides a context in which we can situate the National Performance Review, a program that can be understood as an American example of NPM. We then turn to the question that is the central focus of the essay—how can NPR help us illuminate particular issues of relevance to both political theory and accounting theory. Through it all, we seek to add to understandings of the expansion of accounting in the public sector as well as to provide critical intellectual resources to those scholars who view accounting, as we do, through a hermeneutical lens of suspicion.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
We began this essay with reference to what has traditionally been a “subjugated” status for accounting in relation to political theory. We went on to suggest that reinterpretations of political theory – including but not limited to the claims of Wolin and Connolly – provide ways of understanding the political conditions that make possible the “extraordinary power that accounting holds” in both public and private life. Through an argument like Wolin's, as we have interpreted that argument, the language of politics is seen as written largely in a language of accounting. Accounting fills the discursive void caused by the demise of political foundationalism; power comes to be justified through calculative accounts of costs and benefits; competence (the central political virtue) is judged through calculi of job performance, and the cherished liberal partition of public and private spheres gives way to an economistic assimilation of each into the other. Both the characteristics of postmodern politics (Wolin) and the bifurcation of liberalism (Connolly) can be understood as transitions in discursive practices, transitions through which accounting expands. For Wolin, as we have argued, the demise of foundationalist political theory and the concomitant rise of discourses of economic justification (e.g., job performance and privatization) can be viewed as the displacement of moral-political language by accounting discourse now no longer subjugated. For Connolly, the “prudent balance” between moral-political and economic discourse which formed a unity in modern liberal theory yields to incommensurable discursive practices both of which are seen to depend upon a priority for accounting. What does this imply for critical accounting research? As a negative point, it suggests suspicions about a tendency to simply assume that accounting ought to be normatively productive of this or that political end in favour of a concern with how accounting discourse “steers” political life in directions which other discourses may not (or cannot). There is of course much that is commendable about courageous and relentless insistence that human actions (like accountings) remain responsive to particular political norms. But that tells us little about how accounting functions politically and even less about how we are to understand the power of accounting in a postmodern political environment. As a positive point, taking language seriously directs accounting research toward ways in which accounting discourse constitutes (rather than re-presents) economic and political phenomena like job performance, cost, efficiency, outputs, wealth, unemployment, etc. [a focus on the constitutive force of accounting is common within critical accounting research but nonexistent in mainstream U.S. research]. To the extent that political legitimacy is seen to depend upon these phenomena; and, to the extent that they are themselves constructed through accounting, then critique of political norms (legitimacy) is seen to depend upon critique of accounting. That contemporaneity between political critique and accounting critique cannot be recognized unless the power of accounting language as constitutive of politics is assumed. The intriguing question is how political life and accounting's place within it is to be understood in a complex space where humanistic values and structural imperatives are both relevant. The risk of placing too much emphasis on the humanistic is that critical accounting researchers finds themselves in a position similar to Connolly's beautiful souls, a position where critical discourse transpires at a level of abstraction which makes it irrelevant to practical life and thereby politically impotent. The risk of placing too much emphasis on the structural features is that, like behavioral economics, critical research transforms persons into apparati to be strategically acted upon in a manner conducive of “desirable” behaviors and outcomes. There is no “solution” to the tension between structural imperatives and humanistic political concerns. There are programmatic attempts to grapple with that tension, Habermas’ theory of communicative action being an exemplary case in point. But it does seem desirable to adopt an attitude which recognizes the tension as a very real one and as central to the expansion of accounting in the contemporary political sphere. Fortunately, the United States government grants significant autonomy to its court system. We trust that the following position of the United States Supreme Court will be protected with vigilance as we have entered a political era where “business” values and processes pose previously unimagined threats to democratic governance: “… the constitution recognizes higher values than speed and efficiency. Indeed, one might fairly say of the Bill of Rights in general, and the Due Process Clause in particular, that they were designed to protect the fragile values of a vulnerable citizenry from the overbearing concern for efficiency and efficacy ….” (Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645, 656 , cited in Piotrowski and Rosenbloom, p. 646).