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A Car Wash: Post-truth Politics, Petrobras and Ethics of the Real

d L Voss, Barbara and Carter, David and Warren, Rebecca (2022) 'A Car Wash: Post-truth Politics, Petrobras and Ethics of the Real.' Accounting Auditing and Accountability Journal. ISSN 0951-3574

CSR and Petrobras - Final Accepted Version.pdf - Accepted Version

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Purpose: We draw upon three accounts to examine post-truth politics and its link to accounting. In studying Petrobras, a Brazilian petrochemical company embroiled in a corruption scandal, we employ a politics of falsity to understand how different depictions of similar events can emerge. We depict Petrobras’ CSR disclosures during the period of corruption juxtaposed against the Brazilian Federal Police investigation (the Lava Jato/Car Wash Operation) and Petrobras’ response to the allegations of institutional corruption Design/Methodology/Approach: Our data set consisted of 56 Petrobras reports including Annual Reports, Financial Statements, Sustainability Reports and Form 20-Fs from 2004-2017, information disclosed by the Brazilian Federal Police concerning the Lava Jato Operation and media reports concerning Petrobras and the corruption scandal. The paper employs a discourse analysis approach to depict and interpret the accounts. Findings: Through the connection between ontic accounts and ontological presuppositions, we illustrate a post-truth logic underpinning accounting, due to the interpretive, contestable and contingent nature of accounting information. Consequently, we turn to the ‘ethics of the real’ as a response, as citizen subjects must be cautious in how they approach accounting and CSR disclosures. Originality/value: Rather than rely on simplistic true/false dualities, we argue that the ‘ethics of the real’ provides a courageous position for citizen subjects to interrogate the organisation by recognising the role of discourse and disclosure expectations on organisations in a post-truth environment. We also illustrate how competing, contingent accounts of the same timeframe can emerge.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Post-truth politics; Petrobras; The politics of falsity; Ethics of the real; Corporate social responsibility; Corruption
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School > Essex Accounting Centre
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 May 2022 13:01
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 10:51

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