Connecting the Production Multiple: Accounting as a Fluid Technology

Alex Yu Lichen, Jan Mouritsen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


This paper is about objects. It follows post ANT trajectories and finds that objects are multiple and fluid. Extant classic ANT inspired accounting research largely sees accounting inscriptions as immutable mobiles. Although multiplicity of objects upon which accounting acts has been explored, there is much more. This paper takes a post ANT view arguing that accounting is a fluid mutable mobile and that such fluidity enacts new realities thus making the object it acts upon more multiple. This is in consistent with our finding that is contextualised in a large Swedish based manufacturing company which was implementing sales and operations planning (S&OP) process to foster integration on its demand chain. Although actors wanted to see what it is to produce, that is to say, the object Production, as a singular object that could be diffused across time and space, Production became more multiple because the S&OP process itself is a fluid object, but there is still possibility to organise the messy Production. There are connections between the Production multiple and the managerial technology fluid. The fluid enacted the multiplicity of Production thus making it more difficult to be organised because there were always Other representations that enact new relations between presences, manifest absences and others. The multiple was organised in the sense that its mutually exclusive realities were managed by different constituents of the fluid located in these diverse realities. Accounting incompleteness in this sense attracts different absent local practices, which in turn make accounting fluid to account for the Production multiple. The accounting fluid brings together accounting inscriptions and particularity of locals. In the language of circulating references, reduction and amplification no longer go in opposite directions. They are all part of the fluid object. There is no single chain of circulating references that makes the object a matter of fact. Accounting fluidity means that references drift back and forth and enact new realities also connected to the chain. In this setting future research may not judge success or failure of accounting on whether accounting does solve the problem in singular but whether accounting is fluid enough to connect separate multiples.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Number of pages44
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Event2014 Global Management Accounting Research Symposium (GMARS) - Crowne Plaza Coogee Beach, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 25 Jun 201427 Jun 2014
Conference number: 11


Conference2014 Global Management Accounting Research Symposium (GMARS)
LocationCrowne Plaza Coogee Beach

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