Emergence and Stabilization of Performance Accounts for the Circular Economy: The Role of Representations

Justyna Bekier, Andrea Beye, Cristiana Parisi

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


This paper explores the role of representations in the emergence and stabilization of accounting technologies for circular economy, focusing on accounts designed to measure and evaluate performance of stakeholders in a large-scale innovation project. As circular economy is an inherently vague and subjective notion (Kirchherr et al. 2017), its implementation through multi-stakeholder projects is bound to face conflicts between their different values, goals and frames of action. An organization of such projects resembles what Stark (2009) dubbed heterarchy, characterized by differing evaluative principles, distributed authority and friction. This study of a Horizon 2020-funded innovation project follows, via ethnographic methods, the performance accounts ‘in the making’ (Chua 1995), before the system turns into a black box (Latour 1987). A key element in the development of accounts in this innovation project are the inscriptions that provide representation of the objectives, strategies, and activities of different project members. In this case, representations accommodate different understandings of circularity and logics of action, and allow them to coexist. Through an analysis of observational and textual data, supplemented with interviews, this study explores in further detail the role of representations in fabrication of accounts, investigating their potential ‘compromising’ role (Chenhall et al. 2013).
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventNordic Science and Technology Studies Conference 2021: STS and the Future as a Matter of Collective Concern - Copenhagen Business School, Frederiksberg, Denmark
Duration: 20 May 202121 May 2021


ConferenceNordic Science and Technology Studies Conference 2021
LocationCopenhagen Business School
Internet address


  • Circular economy
  • Accounting technologies
  • Inscriptions
  • Representation
  • Management accounting
  • Actor-network theory

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