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Accounting as the 'language' of organisational change: the case of a heritage railway

Jayasinghe, Kelum and Soobaroyen, Teerooven and Thomas, Dennis (2011) 'Accounting as the 'language' of organisational change: the case of a heritage railway.' Int. J. of Critical Accounting, 3 (1). 26 - 62.

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Abstract

This paper examines the critical role the 'accounting language' plays in organisational change. Whilst researchers have studied 'business planning' as a pedagogic device aimed at controlling spending and at introducing accountability, the explicit role played by 'accounting language' in the change process has not been emphasised, particularly in the heritage and preservation domain where volunteer labour exercises more power than paid management in a 'dialectic of control'. We address this gap by employing a grounded methodology, involving the collection of evidence from interviews, records and observations to document two 'strategic planning' attempts in a volunteer-led heritage railway. We observe how the use of 'accounting language' (in the form of categories and encryptions) visibly conveys new decision rules and facilitates their acceptance as actors know and play by these new rules. Informed by Giddens' structuration theory concepts, the study also shows how 'accounting language' provides the modalities of structuration (meaning, moral order and power) bringing new 'languages' and 'rules' to the actors as well as creating a 'power' shift from volunteers to professional managers in their 'dialectic of control'.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: accounting language, voluntary organisations, meaning, moral order, power, structuration theory, organisational change, heritage railways, volunteer labour, volunteers, strategic planning.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School > Essex Accounting Centre
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2012 20:37
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2017 22:50
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/4714

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