Accounting, financial managing and attachments in affective nets: The case of a Swedish football club

Accounting

Speaker:Wai Fong Chua, University of Sydney
Website: Key words: accounting; sport; affective attachments; affective practices; affective engineering; performance-centricity.
Date: Wednesday 7 December 2016
Time: 09:30 - 11:00
Location: Streatham Court 0.28

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Abstract

Affect, as an aspect of organizing, is a neglected area of research in accounting. Adapting a notion of “passionate interests” (Latour, 2013; Tarde, 1902), this paper theorises organizations as nets of affective attachments. Accounting then is embedded within affective nets. Consequently, accounting does not only embody and/or generate affect, as has been the focus in previous research, but affective attachments materially influence money flows, resource allocations, and the trajectory and valency of accounting numbers. The empirical setting for our study is a long-standing elite Swedish football club. We show that passionate struggles over ‘the production of atmosphere’, rights, and influence limited the relevance of budgets as a forecasting and control device, contributed to persistent funding uncertainties and impacted on a consequent ‘strategic’ project seeking financial and sporting stability. Affective practices embodied, engineered and enabled the circulation of diverse affects – love, solidarity, frustration, and in particular, anxiety and a sense of vulnerability among key stakeholders. Also, affective engineering was not the sole province of club management; other stakeholders were also engaged in the manipulation of affect, at times, counter to the efforts of management. Finally, performance metrics, such as sport rankings, travelled out of stadiums and generated affect (pride, frustration) in numerous arenas of daily life, while the club’s financial performance metrics did not have a similar effect. The study therefore points to affective contestation among actors and an uneven financialization of daily life. It calls for future research on the accounting-affect nexus and a ‘performance-centricity’ in contemporary everyday living.

Key words: accounting; sport; affective attachments; affective practices; affective engineering; performance-centricity.