Value for Money as Institutional Object : Rethinking the materiality of accounting

The Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) warmly invite you to join guest speaker Professor Thomas Ahrens from the United Arab Emirates University as he explores his work on the materiality of accounting

  • Wed 8 Dec 21

    12:30 - 14:30

  • Online

    Jon this seminar

  • Event speaker

    Professor Thomas Ahrens, United Arab Emirates University

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Chaoyuan She

The aim of the Essex Accounting Centre (EAC) research seminar series is to support out world-class research activities in five key areas: accounting and global development; capital markets, audit, regulation and reporting; publicness and resilience, precarity, exclusion and social justice; and environment, climate change and vulnerability. The seminar series is also expected to promote interdisciplinary research that link the work of members of the centre with others both within the university and with external institutions.

Seminar abstract

This research traces the agency of accounting to the values that are pursued through its materiality.

Based on recent advances in the theory of institutional logics it explores the ways in which accounting can become an institutional object whose materiality becomes intertwined with the values that structure institutions.

It uses a genealogy of value for money (VFM) in English local government to illustrate.

Here, the institution is the state, the institutional object is VFM, and the value that is pursued is a version of rational administration, namely, a combination of being economical, efficient, and, to an extent, effective (known as ‘the 3 E’).

The pursuit of rational administration was heavily conditioned by the properties of VFM. VFM made impossible some attempts at rational administration and bent others in certain directions. However, the value of rational administration persisted by generating various forms of agency and ended up shaping VFM.

This way of thinking about the realisation of non-phenomenological institutional values through performance management systems—that are institutional objects and that mediate between the realms of institutional metaphysics and material calculative practices—sheds new light on the significance of value for accounting and other calculative practices in highly institutionalised contexts.


How to attend this seminar

This seminar is free to attend with no need to box in adavance.

We welcome you to join this seminar online on Wednesday 8 December 2021 at 12:30pm.

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Speaker bio

Thomas Ahrens is a Professor of Accounting at United Arab Emirates University.

He held positions at the University of Southampton, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and the University of Warwick, where he served as Associate Dean for graduate programmes for three years. He earned his PhD at the LSE.

He has conducted research on managerial uses of accounting in companies as well as the institutional functioning of accounting in a variety of public sector contexts. This work was based on qualitative field research and has sought to contribute to understandings of accounting as socio-material practice.

He has also written on methodological questions related to qualitative accounting research.

Thomas is currently serving as Editor of Qualitative Research in Accounting and Management, Associate Editor of Management Accounting Research, and Co-Editor of the Journal of Management and Governance.

For 10 years he was an Associate Editor of Contemporary Accounting Research.

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