Accounting and the firm as impure calculating devices: making, unmaking and remaking a black box


Speaker:Will Seal, Loughborough University
Date: Tuesday 17 May 2016
Time: 14:30 - 16:00
Location: Streatham Court 0.28

Further details


Building on Callon’s insights on entangling and disentangling, an analysis of business support service provision sheds new light on the calculative characteristics of accounting and the firm. A calculative perspective offers a more fine-grained approach in comparison with the usual contractual frameworks. From a calculative perspective, the provision of support services may be seen as part of a general problem of dealing with overhead/indirect costs. Characterising the divisionalised company as an example of how a black box may be fabricated, the paper traces the processes of translation which sees the captive shared service organization (CSSO) emerge as a new black box in a remade divisionalised structure. Although from a Callonistic perspective, the accounting calculations associated with the CSSO are necessarily impure, the front office/back office split and IT-enabled work monitoring indicate that the CSSO is enmeshed in an exceptionally supportive network based on the Taylorisation of white collar activities.

Key words: business support services - entangling/disentangling – calculation – black box – translation