Evaluative Infrastructures: Accounting for Distributed Network Production

Martin Kornberger, Dane Pflueger, Jan Mouritsen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


To date, much of the accounting literature focuses on control and coordination within and from the perspective of organizations, reflecting what Hopwood described as accounting’s “hierarchical consciousness”. Inspired by the growing phenomenon of network organizational forms such as eBay, AirBnB or Uber, this paper develops the concept of evaluative infrastructures for a heterarchical modus of accounting. Evaluative infrastructures are decentralized accounting practices that underpin distributed production processes. They are evaluative because they deploy a plethora of interacting devices, including rankings, ratings, reviews, audits etc. to establish orders of worth. They are infrastructures because they provide the invisible yet essential mechanisms for distributed production processes to occur. Put metaphorically, if cost accounting provided the numerical infrastructure for the hierarchical firm, evaluative infrastructures provide the accounting practices for networks. Illustrating the concept of evaluative infrastructure with the extended example of eBay, the paper’s contribution is to extend accounting scholars’ analytical focus from hierarchical settings to heterarchies. This analytical shift from management accounting to evaluative infrastructures includes a focus on relationality (evaluative infrastructures do not represent or reference but relate things, people and ideas with each other); generativity (evaluative infrastructures do not territorialize objects but disclose new worlds); and new forms of control (evaluative infrastructures are not centers of calculation; rather, control is radically distributed, whilst power remains centralized).
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event9th Workshop on Management Accounting as Social and Organizational Practice. MASOP 2016 - Universität Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
Duration: 28 Apr 201629 Apr 2016
Conference number: 9


Workshop9th Workshop on Management Accounting as Social and Organizational Practice. MASOP 2016
LocationUniversität Innsbruck
Internet address


  • Infrastructure
  • Network production
  • Evaluation

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