The Visual and Material Dimensions of Legitimacy

Accounting and the Search for Socie-ties

  • Wed 22 Nov 17

    14:00 - 16:00

  • Colchester Campus


  • Event speaker

    Professor Paolo Quattrone

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Essex Accounting Centre

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

Essex Accounting Centre is delighted to welcome Professor Paolo Quattrone to our weekly research seminar series to present his paper, titled 'The Visual and Material Dimensions of Legitimacy: Accounting and the Search for Socie-ties'.

Event abstract

The aim of this paper is to contribute to the literature on legitimacy by investigating its material and visual dimensions. By drawing on studies on rhetoric as a means of composing visions of social order and on an historical analysis of accounts in three paradigmatic eras (Roman times, Renaissance and Modernity), it shows how symmetry in accounts constituted an aesthetic code which tied members of a community together in ‘socie-ties’. We investigate the rhetorical process of ratiocination and explore how the visual and material dimensions of accounts provided social actors with an opportunity to explore their positions and ties within a community. This process augmented social actors’ understanding of their current relations by reducing them to a series of entries into an account, thus allowing them to reflect on what it meant to be a legitimate member of a society.

Speaker biography

Paolo Quattrone is Professor and Chair of Accounting, Governance and Social innovation at the University of Edinburgh Business School and Dean of Special Projects at the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. At the Business School, he co-directs the Centre for Accounting and Society. He also is Associate Fellow at the Saïd Business School of the University of Oxford, where he is still Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Italian Studies at Oxford. His research interests are diverse but they all relate to how knowledge, and business knowledge in particular, emerges, engages, establish itself as ‘truth’ and informs and relates to decision-making processes. Studying accounting is perfect for this purpose as it is nowadays an ubiquitous practice that informs and relates to many aspects of the life of individuals, and the functioning of organisations, economies and societies.

Professor Quattrone has published widely on the interface between management control and information technologies (especially ERPs), the history of accounting and management practices and thinking, the diffusion of management solutions, and the managerialisation of higher education institutions. His research appears on journals such as Accounting, Organizations and Society, Administrative Science Quarterly, and Contemporary Accounting Research. His work on the accounting and administrative practices in the Jesuit Order has been featured in the Financial Times. As Fulbright New Century Scholar at the University of Stanford, he conducted research on changes in higher education and the university. Professor Quattrone also served on the Standing Scientific Committee of the European Accounting Association for several years. He is Associate Editor of The British Accounting Review and Critical Perspectives of Accounting, he also sits on the editorial boards of major academic journals such as Accounting Organizations and Society, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, the Accounting Historians Journal and Organization. More recently, he teaches, consults, and researches in the area of major programme management, where he is developing a series of case studies on reporting, governance and leadership practices to address issues of risk and uncertainty in complex organisations for courses that he teaches at Oxford, and for the Major Projects Leadership Academy of the UK Cabinet.

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